A legal victory for the little guy, while Microsoft has a rethink.
It’s all change in the email world with news that Google has been forced to rebrand its gmail service in the UK and Hotmail is about to undergo a radical transformation.
We’ll start with Microsoft’s current nemesis which yesterday lost out to English financial services firm Independent International Investment Reseatch (IIIR) after it managed to prove its subsidiary, ProNet Analytics, had been using the Gmail tag for over three years. This gave it a two year head start on Google and made for a stonewall case.
The financial negotiations that ensued between the two failed to find a solution after IIIR slapped a £25m price tag on the Gmail name. Given that the registration would only affect we Brits and not its global user base, Google decided not to cough up. The consequence is we’re all going to have to type an extra “oogle” in our email addresses, though mail sent to our existing gmail accounts will still be automatically forwarded.
The case is not without precedent, since Google has already demonstrated its stubborn side in Germany earlier this year. Again it faced the same accusations from another business and lost, so citizens from the country which is so good at the penalty kick are also fellow @googlemail.com-ers. No jokes about failing to hit the G-Spot, that’s my tacky territory.
Secondly, and perhaps a little less dramatically, the company that is absolutely no-way-no-siree-in-possession-of-a-monopoly-on-PC-operating-systems is having a tinker with Hotmail. A new interface, codenamed “Kahuna”, but lavishly branded “Mail Beta”, is close to a public airing.
Built from scratch using the company’s Atlas framework and a red hot new interface called FireAnt it should – basically – look a lot more like Gmail (sorry Googlemail if, like me, you’re from our land of naff weather). The credo behind the makeover is to create a faster, simpler and more secure service and it could be set to deliver.
Much need drag and drop and right click functionality are among some of the benefits promised, while “non-abusive” users will be given upwards of 2GB of space without a subscription. The layout, with its three vertical panes, will be instantly familiar to Outlook users and the upgraded Calendar and Contacts sections also draw heavily from it. In a manner similar to the existing Hotmail system, advertising will frame the top, sides and bottom of the screen and be removed should you decide to cross the company’s palm with silver.
If you’re interested in giving Mail Beta a whirl you can find what is certainly a fast and simple page to register here.