I logged into my Windows Live email account yesterday only to find all my email deleted. Not even a single solitary spam message left. I should be livid. Should be tearing what little hair I have left out of my head.
Instead I am simply moderately furious!
Why? Well this is not the first time Microsoft decided to delete all the email from my (then Hotmail) account. So I learned after losing valuable email the first time, not to trust any important email to Microsoft.
What makes it more annoying is that if Microsoft allowed POP access to Live Mail accounts, the way Gmail does, you would be logged in every time you fire up your email client app and you would have a local backup of your mail. But Microsoft won’t do that. Why? Because that might be useful?
After the first time I lost all my email, I didn’t trust Live Mail with any important email so this time I didn’t lose anything valuable. I kept the account because a few old domains are pointed at the email address.
Now, however, I will simply not use Live Mail for anything. I will switch the domains to point at a reliable email service.
Microsoft have a huge image problem. They are perceived as deeply uncool. Vista hasn’t helped this at all. But Windows Live is the public face of Microsoft. When Windows Live does things like ensures people can’t download their email, and then deletes it without warning, it is no wonder that Microsoft is considered yesterday’s company.
I quickly logged into my GMail account and Lo!, there was the IMAP option – wohoo!
Why is this a good thing? Well, previously if you wanted to read your Gmail in your email client application (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) you had to use the POP protocol. IMAP is a better protocol for doing that because as Alex Chitu pointed out:
you’re always connected to the server, more clients can connect to the same account, you can obtain the text from a message without the attachments and the state information is synchronized (you can add labels from the client, read or delete a message and Gmail will synchronize).
Of course Hotmail (or as it is now mis-nomered Windows Live Mail) still doesn’t even allow POP access (unless you pay for it), never mind IMAP. This leads to many people’s accounts being deleted and losing all their email (happened to me last year).
Hotmail used to be a ground-breaking product until Microsoft got their hands on it and slowly squeezed the life out of it.
Via the Google Blogoscoped site comes news of Google’s integration of Google Spreadsheets and Docs into Gmail. Now, anyone receiving an Excel spreadsheet as an attachment in Gmail will be offered the option to open the Spreadsheet in Google Spreadsheets (see below).
Similar functionality has yet to be added for Word documents but, no doubt, it won’t be long.
Google Applications for Your Domain currently allows you to run Gmail, Gtalk, and Gpages (a web publishing tool) through your own domain. One immediate advantage of doing this is that Gmail’s spam filters seem to be very good so running company mail through it should reduce spam problems you may be having.
It is also planned to integrate Google’s online word Processor (Writely) and Google Spreadsheets so that Microsoft Office need never be fired up (or even installed!).
When you sign up you get the following screen:
The functionality is sparse right now but the great thing about software as a service is that updates are constantly being rolled out to the benefit of the consumer. One nice feature in the setup is the bulk uploader which allows you to upload a csv file for setup of your users:
Microsoft needs to be worried. Not because this threatens them from the point of view of functionality but because this new model is quickly becoming the accepted norm. And although Microsoft are getting into this arena too, who would you trust with your company’s data, Google or Microsoft?
UPDATE: D’oh! I forgot to title this post. Title added subsequently along with bang on the head to remind me not to do that again!