Yahoo Mail Beta Review (1 of 2)

I have finally had enough experience using the new Yahoo! Mail Beta to be able to post my initial thoughts. Overall, I think it is a very good email product and the best one I have used since I got into the Gmail beta awhile back. For people who were Oddpost users before, I am sure there is some consternation as to why so many people find this new interface so cool. That being said, it is clear that a lot of thought went into designing this product.

I have been using the new Yahoo! Mail beta on Fireforx 1.5 on a PC running Windows XP.

Things I like

*Tabbed email messages – Similarly to the Mozilla browser, the new Yahoo! mail opens a new mini-tab within your browser for each email message you open. The same happens when you search for content — the search results are posted neatly in a tab.
*Search functionality – The search functionality is very cool. As I mentioned above, the search results are posted to a new tab. In addition, the search box supports the use of operators. If you want to find all email sent from a person, you can search “from: person” and the results will be shown in a separate tab. In the whole search vs. sort debate, this is a nice compromise.
*True Drag-and-Drop – For fans (or users) of more traditional desktop email programs such as Microsoft Outlook, the new Y! Mail offers true drag and drop for most operations. I was able to drag messages from my inbox to my spam or trash folders and to drag miscategorized spam back into my inbox.
*Keyboard Shortcuts – I really got hooked on Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts for opening, replying, forwarding, etc. The new Y! Mail has an impressive set of keyboard shortcuts as well. I don’t, however, find the Yahoo! keyboard shortcuts to be quite as intuitive and comprehensive, but this is a beta product.
*Performance – I have used some Ajax applications that are a tad slow. I was very impressed by the performance. I was able to scroll top to bottom on several thousand messages with only a minimal lag for page refreshes/loads. I was able to highlight and drag over 300 messages to the Trash folder in one operation, something that even my desktop Outlook clients struggles to achieve at times. I have no idea how this performance will stack up once this is exposed to a larger audience of users.
*Blackberry support – It took me all of about 3 minutes to get my Blackberry 7100t up and running with Yahoo! mail. Mail delivery is very zippy. Messages I check on my Blackberry are marked as read in my Y! inbox and the integration feels very clean and neat.
*Preserved “From” Address – I check 4 different accounts through my Y! inbox. For me, preserving the “From” address when I apply to emails is important — it makes it easier for me to keep communications in order. The Y! mail interface does a great job of allowing me to do this — I had some problems making this work as I would have liked in other email programs.

Things to Improve

*Mozilla spellchecker – I was a bit disappointed that the beta version of Y! Mail does not support a spellchecker for Firefox. I am assuming this will be fixed at some point.
*Hierarchical folders – There is still no support for nested folders. While I am trying to break my reliance on folders for dealing with email, I would like the ability to have nested or hierarchical folders.
*Labels? – The one thing that I really miss from Gmail is the ability to apply labels to my email instead of using folders. I would rather have the ability to label email than have an improved set of features around foldering.
*Usage Meter – I would like a bar or meter of some sort to give me a sense for what portion of my email storage I am currently using. Not sure why this is not included already.

Overall, this is an impressive product. I really like what they have done here and it raises the bar for others in the email space.