Yahoo! Mail Beta

Yahoo upgraded their beta webmail client at the end of last week, and I’ve been using it over the weekend on both my Linux machines and my PowerBook. It is trying to behave like a native email client and makes extensive use of AJAX tricks to achieve that. Mostly they pay off too, though it can be a little slow to respond at times.

The nice features are the split window style display, so you can see the email message subjects etc in the top half of the browser window, and the current email message in the lower portion. They also provide extensive keyboard shortcuts, so it feels very much like a native mail client (it would be nice if the option to not be reminded about them applied to all, rather than having to be selected for each operation though). Drag and drop of messages into folders is slick too (much simpler than the old drop down mechanism).

I also have my RSS feeds from My Yahoo in my email window which is a nice touch, though I would have preferred to be asked a little more explicitly about the Yahoo Mail Updates feed that was added to my list. It was probably in the click through text, but I have to say I don’t remember seeing it there.

On the negative side though, they seem to be emulating the worst of the desktop email clients (Outlook) and are not following the widely accepted standards for quoting in replies. This alone may well mean that I look elsewhere for a solution. Outlook, and now this Yahoo web mail it seems, fail to prefix quoted lines with the ‘>’ character and instead use colour to distinguish the original from the inline comments. Shame that few text based email clients (or those set to plain text to avoid annoying HTML emails) will show the colour, resulting in the comments and the original text becoming indistinguishable. Yahoo, please, please erase all copies of Outlook from your network and use a proper, standards compliant email client as the model for your webmail.

It is also going through some teething problems, but that’s probably to be expected for a brand new beta. This afternoon every operation was greeted with this:

I hope this is a temporary glitch (I would report it, but I gave up trying to send Yahoo feedback a long time ago – they make it next to impossible to send them any reports or questions, so I assume they just don’t want to hear from their users, or at least not from the ones who are not paying).

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