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1/24/2007
08:06 PM
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Users Bash New Google Groups

The discussion service sheds its "beta" status with a look and feel of Gmail and therein lies the problem for an irate few.

Google Groups, Google's online discussion service, today lost its "beta" label and graduated to the ranks of officially sanctioned software. A few vocal users aren't pleased.

In a Google blog post marking the occasion, software engineer Griff Hazen said, "Now you can customize the look of your group, create and edit web pages, upload and share files (including photos), and view member profiles. And for your discussions, there's no need to struggle to follow interrupted conversations, as Google Groups now includes the same style of organization that Gmail users love."

Google Groups users, however, detest the changes, at least those who have gone to the effort of posting. While there's probably a silent majority that ranges from neutral to enthusiastic about the new interface and features, the users posting their opinions online have few nice things to say.

A person posting as "Matty F" wrote, "This new version of Google Groups is almost completely unusable. Can we have the old one back please?" Such sentiment reflects a common theme among the disgruntled users.

Another poster identifying himself as "Rich Jordan" wrote, "I'll have to add my dismay over this change. The new interface is ugly and slow compared to the previous one, and much, much less intuitive."

"The new interface is really awful," a person with the user name Gabriele complained.

There are dozens of such posts, quite a few of which aren't printable.

The Google Groups discussion of "The New Google Groups," now seventy-four posts in length, includes an acknowledgment of the predominantly negative tone of the comments from a Google Groups Guide. "I'm sorry to see the disappointment in this thread," the post reads in part. "...Please do know that the members of the team and I are closely reading along as you're posting and your feedback is extremely important to us."

The new Google Groups includes a new interface with navigation links on the right-hand side and the ability to change colors, add icons, and generally move things around to customize the appearance of a Group. It also allows group members to create, edit, and discuss pages, to upload and download files through the Groups interface, to display a list of group members for others in the group.

And if there's any merit to the complaints being posted by users, further features and changes are almost certainly forthcoming.

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