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10/30/2007
02:26 PM
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Google Begins 'Gmail 2.0' Rollout

The new look has been made available to about 1% of all Gmail users and is being rolled out to the rest on an ongoing basis.

Google on Tuesday confirmed it is giving Gmail a new look.

Two prominent blogs that cover Google -- Google Blogscoped and Google Operating System -- have posted screenshots of a new Gmail interface that has been made available to a limited number of users.

They're calling it "Gmail 2.0," even if Google isn't.

"Google during the recent Analyst Day announced they want to release an updated version of Gmail that's supposed to be faster than the current one, thanks to a JavaScript back-end rewrite," said Google Blogscoped publisher Philipp Lenssen in a blog post. "Also, the new version aims to improve contacts management. 'Gmail 2.0' -- possibly the announced update -- was also mentioned in Google's internal company goals last year, the aim being to achieve '70% user happiness' for that version."

Google confirmed the update is under way at its new San Francisco office, just prior to a briefing on an unrelated upcoming Google announcement. A Google spokeswoman said the new look has been made available to about 1% of all Gmail users and is being rolled out to the rest on an ongoing basis. She also said the upgrade isn't being called Gmail 2.0.

"So recently the Gmail team has been working on a structural code change that we'll be rolling out to Firefox 2 and IE 7 users over the coming weeks (with other browsers to follow)," Gmail engineer Dan Pupius said in a post on the Official Gmail blog on Monday. "You won't notice too many differences to start with, but we're using a new model that enables us to iterate faster and share components (we now use the same rich text editor as Groups and Page Creator, and the Contact Manager can be seen in several Google apps). A few other things you will notice are some new keyboard shortcuts and the ability to bookmark specific messages and e-mail searches."

Pupius also said that Google is fanatical about speed -- and why not when you have hundreds of thousands of servers around the world -- and that "[u]sing an alpha version of Safari 3 on a MacBook, we're seeing sub-200ms times when opening messages -- pretty quick."

If there's a downside to Google's upgrade, it's that third-party extensions to Gmail may stop working.

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