- The Men Who Came To Dinner, and What They Said About Email. The email (ie. webmail) project leaders for Google, Microsoft and Yahoo got together for a friendly dinner. What did they agree on? Well, Gmail is the clear leader of the beta-version pack; but also they just wish that everyone would use IE and stop hassling them: The men reported similar pressures: cranky users of Web browsers with tiny market shares demanding that their browsers be supported, while not appreciating how much work is involved.

Here's the thing - some of us do understand how much work is involved... and we still think they should get it right. Remember that we're talking about products and companies with massive budgets and massive userbases. All three companies consider email to be a key factor in obtaining and retaining customers - yet they're unwilling to let those users make a simple choice like which browser to use.

It's an odd aspect to the IT industry... major companies willing to cut out whole segments of their market, just because it's "Too Hard" to cater to them. Applied to another industry it'd look ridiculous - imagine a petrol station turning away anyone who isn't driving a Toyota Camry!

So anyway, it's clear even from a brief paraphrase that these three companies (or at least their email teams) are not keen on standards and resent expectations of cross-browser support. In fact, they look like classic Angry, Acceptance-Averse Application Administrators to me. Old school "it works in my browser so what's the problem" guys. No surprise, of course.

I think it's also about time we started calling companies about this "permanent beta" thing. It's too convenient an excuse - "hey, it's just a beta product, what do you expect?". Sure, but beta for years?

But hey, maybe I'm being too harsh and the final release of Gmail will actually work properly across the board. After all, it's just beta...