Five Ways Gmail Still Beats Hotmail

Sorry, Preston, but I'm going to disagree with you. There's no way that the new Hotmail beats Gmail. Not for the Computerworld audience's needs, anyway.

Here are five reasons of my own, in The Long View ...

Release early; release often
When was the last significant Hotmail update, 2008? Hardly internet time. Gmail gets incremental updates with incredible frequency: usually one or more per month. For example, the most recent announced update was on May 11. Some time ago, Google rewrote Gmail to make it more maintainable; that investment has paid off handsomely.

And There's no need to beg, plead, or disembowel a chicken to get on the Gmail beta program. Simply sign up for Gmail Labs and get early access to all kinds of "crazy experimental stuff." Each feature can be enabled or disabled individually. For example, which other webmail system makes sure you're not drunk before allowing you to send email at 1am?

Enterprise white-label
Google Apps offers a white-label version of Gmail, which you can re-brand and use under your own net domain. New Gmail features make it into Google Apps almost immediately. It comes with an SLA and it's strikingly good value for money.

For cheapskates (like me) there's even a free version. I've been using it since 2007 and it's been extremely reliable.

Search and filters
Searching in Gmail is incredibly rich and amazingly fast. I have 7GB of email archived from 2004 and can find anything in seconds; I feel no need to build complex folder structures. As I've said countless times: successful use of email isn't about filing, it's about finding.

The filtering rules use the same search terms and have perhaps the best choice of rule actions I've seen in any email system, including selective redirection or canned replies.

The best spam filter, bar none
In the world of webmail, nothing compares to Gmail's spam filter, either for effectiveness or false positives. (I couldn't help laughing at Preston's screenshots, which clearly show Nigerian spam in his Hotmail inbox.)

Gmail's Report Spam button even supports the internet standard for automatically unsubscribing from mailing lists, which is a nice touch.

Advertising
The advertising in Hotmail is intrusive and distracting. It takes up more screen real-estate than Gmail's.

Microsoft also has a habit of adding advertising to the text of your outgoing email. No thanks, I'll pass.

IMAP
POP3 doesn't cut it any more. Hasn't for a long time. 'Nuff said.

Yes, I know. Six reasons. Sue me.

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: TLV@richij.com.

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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