Wednesday, June 09, 2004

GMail: Frequently asked questions.

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My first posting about GMail had a comment from a certain person asking me whether GMail was free. It is free my fellow earthling and much more. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about GMail :-

1. What makes Gmail different?

Gmail uses Google search technology to automatically organize and find messages. And because Gmail includes 1,000 megabytes of storage, a typical user won't ever have to worry about deleting mail. Everything just gets archived so it can be found again if needed.

There are other differences in the way Gmail provides access to your email. For example, Gmail automatically groups an email and the replies to it as a conversation. That means you always see a message in its proper context. And there are no pop-ups or banner ads in Gmail, just relevant text ads and links to related pages. Gmail's other distinctive features include a labeling system, a spam reporter and a system for filtering your mail as it comes into your inbox.

2. How much does Gmail cost?

Gmail is a free service and includes 1,000 megabytes of storage with each account. However, Gmail is still in preview mode as tests are being conducted to work out the kinks. So for now, it's not generally available.

3. How do I sign up? When can I get a Gmail account?

Google is currently only offering Gmail as part of a preview release and limited test. I don't have details on when Gmail will be made more widely available, as that depends in part on the results of the test.

4. Is Gmail available in other languages?

During this testing period, the Gmail interface is only available in English. However, Google is committed to making Gmail available to as many people in as many languages as possible. And Gmail accounts can already be used to read and send email in most languages (even Klingon).

5. What are Gmail's system requirements?

Gmail currently supports the following browsers:

Microsoft IE 5.5 and newer (Windows)
Netscape 7.1 and newer (Windows, Macintosh, Linux)
Mozilla 1.4 and newer (Windows, Macintosh, Linux)
Mozilla Firefox 0.8 and newer (Windows, Macintosh, Linux)
Regardless of the browser used, you must have JavaScript and cookies enabled. Google hopes to expand this list of supported browsers in the near future.

6. Does Gmail support automatic forwarding and POP3 access?

Not at the moment, but they're working on it. Google believes in helping people access information whenever and however they want to do so. Your email should never be held hostage by a service provider. In the future you'll be able to access Gmail messages from non-Gmail accounts at no charge.

7. What about spam?

Google is committed to keeping unwanted messages out of your Inbox. Gmail includes a sophisticated spam filter that we're continuing to improve. The Report Spam link in Gmail is a way for users to help with this effort. It removes spam from the Inbox and sends valuable data to the Gmail team working on spam blocking.

8. Are there ads in Gmail?

There are no pop-ups or banner ads in Gmail. Gmail does include relevant text ads that are similar to the ads appearing on the right side of Google search results pages. The matching of ads to content is a completely automated process performed by computers using the same technology that powers the Google AdSense program. This technology already places targeted ads on thousands of sites across the web by quickly analyzing the content of pages and determining which ads are most relevant to them. No humans read your email to target the ads, and no email content or other personally identifiable information is ever provided to advertisers.

9. What is Gmail's privacy policy?

Google is committed to keeping your personal information private and our policy reflects that. You should know that Google:

Collects only limited account information and stores and maintains your account and email messages on secure servers.
Never rents, sells or shares information that personally identifies you for marketing purposes without your express permission.
Respects your privacy. No humans ever read your email to target ads or related information to you. Gmail serves highly relevant ads and other information using completely automated technology.


10. Why is Google offering email? I thought they were a search company.

Google's mission is to organize the world's information and make it universally useful and accessible. For many people, email contains valuable information that can be difficult to retrieve. We believe we can help with that.

Gmail uses Google search technology to find messages so users don't have to create folders and file their individual emails. Many of Gmail's other features also incorporate search technology to improve their effectiveness. Used this way, search enhances the efficiency of email, so we believe it's a natural area for Google to offer a service.


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