The relentless march continues...
New Gmail 2009 addition of the week is inline images. The email service which recently upgraded its attachment uploading has this time gone a step further so photos can be viewed directly inside a message. This is hardly revolutionary (and not nearly as cool as the inline YouTube Flickr & Picassa integration) but should prove handy for the circa 100m wise souls who use the service. Grab it from Labs now.
Google does warn: "Make sure you're in rich formatting mode, or it won't show up. Click the little image icon, and you can insert images in two ways: by uploading image files from your computer or providing image URLs. Keep in mind that Gmail doesn't show URL-based images in messages by default to protect you from spammers, so if you're sending mail to other Gmail users, they'll still have to click "Display images below" or "Always display images from ..." to see images you embed."
Throw in an optional email preview window like, dare I say it, Outlook (I feel dirty inside) and some drag and drop functionality and you'll be there Google. The best can always be better...
In related news TechCrunch reports the still mystifyingly popular Hotmail hasn't been winning friends and influencing people this week after it mimicked the recent Gmail outage by shutting down and locking users out of their accounts. For those who could get in they were greeted by the rather alarming message that their inbox did not exist. Oops. Thankfully, all is now back to normal and Microsoft says messages and contacts remain intact.
Yet another bone shaking 'Cloud Crisis' averted? Suck it up people, it's where the future lies.
Update: Virgin is moving all its customers across to hosted Gmail accounts. The first 20,000 who sign up today will get this functionality (and the huge 7GB of storage space) immediately, existing users (including @blueyonder.co.uk, @ntlworld.com and @virgin.net accounts) will be ported over shortly. Needless to say, it's all free. Smart move.