Yahoo Mail, the beta Web-based email program, is better than Gmail - so says the WSJ's Walt Mossberg. He notes:
"The new Yahoo Mail is far superior to Gmail. Yahoo more closely matches the desktop experience most serious email users have come to expect. Gmail, by contrast, is quirky and limited."
He goes on to say:
"On several key issues, Google's engineers have decreed that familiar email practices are no longer useful, and have substituted approaches they prefer, arrogantly denying users any choice."
He cites the lack of choice around the 'conversation' mode that Gmail uses to display emails. Personally I really like that mode, because it produces a less cluttered interface and I can keep track of conversations far easier. Also I think Gmail's search functionality is a brilliant implementation of Google's famous Web search user experience, only with email data.
Paul Kedrosky agreed with Mossberg - he thinks there's an "arrogant software design ethos underlying Gmail".
But I think Mossberg takes his premise that web email must "look and work like regular desktop programs" a bit too far. Gmail was responsible for some fantastic innovation in how email can be experienced on the Web, so I don't think we should knock Google for that. Is it arrogant to experiment with new forms of Web functionality in an email application, rather than try and replicate desktop app functionality? I prefer to think it's innovative. I'm not one to defend Google that often, but I really can't see much evidence of a lack of user choice in Gmail.
Having said that, I haven't yet tried the new Yahoo Mail. So perhaps it is better than Gmail. Anyone from Yahoo care to send me a beta invite? ;-)