Gmail Vs. Outlook

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Rakesh Agrawal, President and CEO of Snapstream, decided to experiment switching from Microsoft Outlook to Google’s Gmail for all of his email, including business email.

After six weeks, he’s written up his thoughts. Rakesh clearly has access to all of Microsoft’s toys (like Exchange), so the fact that he’s chosen to stick with Gmail says a lot about the quality of service Google offers.

So, how can Google address his caveats? The biggest seems to be an offline version of Gmail, something Google has not indicated it is developing. I think the Windows Live Mail Desktop solution is the way to go, designing a light, yet very well featured desktop email client that is clearly designed to work in conjunction with web-based email, not as a replacement. Such a solution is well within Google’s means, and, because of their less-is-more design philosophy, actually easier for Google than Microsoft.

Other issues: Sending email from other accounts can be handled better, either through using Gmail for Domains or a desktop client. Still, the regular email client can be used better. There are ways to play nice with spam filters while still letting professionals send work email throught Gmail without feeling embarressed.

Mobile Gmail doesn’t need the same features as Gmail, but it has got to replicate the behavior.

There’s no reason Google can’t offer unlimited email storage for $50 a year.

Gmail’s text editor should be replaced by something more robust. May I suggest Writely?

More AJAX: Gmail should act more like Outlook, with AJAX windows within the client area, so you can open multiple emails at the same time. This would be a hugely complicated feature, but it would make Yahoo and Microsoft look like children.

How can Microsoft match the benefits Rakesh lists for Gmail?

Exchange Online: Your Exchange server should be able to publish to a Windows Live Mail interface, so you don’t need a client all the time. If Gmail can handle POP3 accounts, there’s no reason Exchange shouldn’t do web-based email.

Remove the clutter: Give me a better Outlook “Today” screen, containing all my unread email and events, ao I can read it, and be able to handle all this work from a single screen. While I need the full power of Outlook, I should be able to see and work on everything from one clean screen.

Spam filtering needs to get serious.

The other issues have been resolved for Outlook 2007, mostly. So, what do you think? If you have a team of world-class programmers and a huge budget, what would you have them do to Gmail, or to Outlook?

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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

Visit the InsideGoogle blog.

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