The Ultimate Web Based Email?

When Gmail first came out, there was quite the buzz. People begged for and even bought beta invitations. I have used Gmail (though not as my default email program) for months and I think it is a very good email solution (2.5 gigabytes of storage can’t be a bad thing, right?). But it still looks looks like a web based email application. In other words, it looks like another, better version of Hotmail or the current Yahoo email. The search for the perfect web based email application continues.

Yahoo may be about to change that. Yahoo bought Oddpost, a well liked web based email application, last year. Now it seems that Yahoo is about to combine its existing email application with Oddpost technology into a revolutionary new version of Yahoo email.

I haven’t yet scored an invitation to beta test the new Yahoo mail, but based on the reviews and screenshots I have seen, it looks like a significant improvement over everything that’s out there currently.

TheUnofficialYahooWeblog has a good review of the application, along with some screenshots. Improvements in the new application include:

1) 3 pane view, with folders, inbox and message preview available on one screen. This makes Yahoo email look and feel more like Outlook and other traditional email programs than any other web based service. It works with Firefox as well as Internet Explorer.

2) A tabbed interface that lets you line up several messages for later review, reply, etc. This feature is similar to Firefox’s much heralded (including by me) tabbed browsing.

3) Lots of formatting options for email composition. I am very strictly a plain text email person, but lots of people aren’t and if you want to make your email pretty or annoying (depending on your perspective) the new Yahoo email will give you lots of ways to do so.

4) The new Yahoo email application doesn’t target advertising based on the content of your emails the way Gmail does. This is not a big deal to me, but it will make the privacy crowd happy.

As more people move towards web based applications, which allow you to access them from any computer, not just your own computer, web based email will almost certainly see wider acceptance. By making the experience similar to what people already use, Yahoo is positioning itself perfectly to take advantage of that growth.

If I can get a beta invitation, I’ll take the new application for a spin and post more notes and updates.

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