Yahoo’s three latest changes garner grumbling, outrage and (maybe) a tiny cheer

Change, for better or worse, has been the operative word at Yahoo since Marissa Mayer took over as CEO a little over a year ago. From eliminating telecommuting to a new-look homepage to a redesigned logo, there has been no shortage of critical reactions along the way. As Yahoo gets ready to announce its quarterly earnings later today, three of its most recent changes are garnering, in respective order, grumbling, outrage and — perhaps, finally — a small cheer.

Better than nothing (grumble grumble): In a significant security upgrade, Yahoo will enable SSL encryption as a default option to all its email users in January, the Washington Post reports. SSL has been an optional setting for Yahoo Mail users since the beginning of the year.

The added layer of security will be noticeable to users by the “https” prefix in the URL. While privacy experts welcomed the move, criticism remained that Yahoo was late to the game. Google added SSL encryption as a default to to Gmail in 2010, for example, and since then it has also become the default for Microsoft’s Outlook and Facebook.

Last November, 26 groups — including the ACLU, Electronics Frontiers Foundation and Reporters Without Borders — urged Yahoo to implement SSL to protect its users’ privacy and security. Now it may be a case of too little, too late. The NSA has reportedly already broken SSL, and Google and Facebook are moving on to deeper levels of encryption.

“It is unfortunate that it has taken Yahoo four years to do what Google was able to do in 2010: deploy HTTPS encryption, for all users, by default,” Christopher Soghoian of the ACLU told the Post. “Yahoo’s glacial progress on this issue has been a gift to intelligence agencies around the world, who have been able to perform massive, dragnet-surveillance of Yahoo users’ unprotected emails.”

Update: Yahoo Mail will be improving upon SSL as well. According to a Yahoo spokesperson: “In addition to making https a default feature by January 2014 for all Yahoo Mail users, we plan to implement 2048-bit encryption keys, which will provide our users with a further layer of security.”

Outright outrage: A furor has erupted from Yahoo Mail users upset with the service’s new look.

Launched last week, the redesign gives the inbox a stripped-down look more akin to Gmail, with message threads and a cleaner design. But frustrated users have been vocal in their criticism over essential features that have been removed or hidden from plain sight, flooding Yahoo support message boards with tens of thousands of complaints. Among them: No more tabs feature, new emails are not boldfaced and the print button is missing. ZDNet reports there have also been numerous technical complaints about autosave malfunctions, SSL failure and accidental deletions of contacts and emails.

“I want my old email back,” one user posted. “Quit changing things.”

Other complaints ranged from the impassioned (“You don’t need to force this abomination on your users”) to the logical: (“There is a reason those in this forum use Yahoo and not Gmail. It is based on a difference in thinking how best to design webmail for both the casual and power user. . . . This is a major issue that determines the usability of the product.”)

While many commenters threatened to leave Yahoo Mail, it’s unclear where they would turn, since many of their posts deride Gmail and Outlook, the only other major free email services. Yahoo has yet to address the problems, ZDNet reports, other than a generic referral to its Help page.

Can we all agree this is good?: Meanwhile, Yahoo today unveiled a new look to its Flickr photo-sharing service. A more radical look was unveiled in May, again spurring many complaints, but this newest tweak appears more benign.

The redesign, which is now in beta and will be released later this year, includes larger pictures, less clutter and faster page-load speeds. “You’ll see more pixels, get a cleaner view without any elements on the top or the bottom of the screen, so that photos can really be the center point,” Flickr said in a blog post.

“Looks very nice,” one commenter said.

At this rate, Yahoo may settle for that as a ringing endorsement.

 

 File photo by MICHAEL NELSON/EPA

 

 

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  • gsc

    I don’t have a problem with yahoo email. I have a problem with them changing all the other pages. I liked the old sports page. I want to see headlines about my teams. That feature is long gone. Instead I am stuck with a generic twitter type page. The same can be said for their finance page and the my yahoo page. These changes have driven me away from using yahoo for anything but mail.

  • DontMessWithAmerica

    Anybody who reads the feedback to Yahoo on the changes to their mail box service will run out and start short selling the stock. Either the lady goes and they scramble to return to the design that worked fine before she came or the lady stays and we attend Yahoo’s wake.

  • UnmatchedProductions

    Media just don’t get this. Yahoo Mail is BROKEN. Here is just a small sample of what is happening to users:

    1. Contact lists being deleted
    2. Years of emails disappearing
    3. Deadlines being missed because functions don’t complete
    4. A flight squadron couldn’t get flight plans
    5. A lawyer couldn’t file a brief on time
    6. Invoices disappearing before they could be paid
    7. Orders disappearing before they could be filled.

    This debacle is a disaster for business. We aren’t complaining about how yahoo mail looks. We are complaining because essential functions are missing or broken. We love mobile, but we DON’T use mobile for business!

    Investors and advertisers need to take notice – yahoo users are going to leave in DROVES if this isn’t addressed.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/yahoo-bring-back-the-old-version-of-yahoo-mail

  • dipr

    yahoo email android app update today is disaster !!! see play store, review sites etc.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cindy.w.sherwood Cindy Willett Sherwood

    What Unmatched Productions said. The media are minimizing this and making it sound as if Yahoo mail users simply don’t like change. The truth is that as a small business owner, I can’t afford to have an unreliable email service, which is what Yahoo became, suddenly and without notice, one week ago. But even if all the “glitches” (see http://www.healthcare.gov for the correct meaning of that term) are fixed, there are still major issues of the redesign eliminating the essential features that caused us to use Yahoo email. It’s as if the designers of this disaster had absolutely no understanding of how their customers actually used their product. And Yahoo’s sheer arrogance in failing to respond to the concerns is stunning. You’re also wrong about people not leaving Yahoo for other services, because there are already multiple recommendations for services like gmx.com and mail.com. I predict that these Yahoo mail changes will someday be synonymous with the business fiascoes of New Coke and JC Penney’s no-coupon experiment.

  • Ralph

    I use Yahoo Mail Plus (paid) for business. This new roll out is a giant step backwards in functionality. It seems to be geared toward the tweener crowd. I need to have multiple tabs open so I can research clients emails while I compose proposals. Drafts are no longer being saved automatically, I have lost hours worth of work when Yahoo logs me out for no apparent reason. Attachments are on the bottom of an email chain where no one can find them. Font is difficult to read with any “theme” I choose. My folders are hidden and slow to open. The list goes on and on.
    Tens of thousands of people are against this change, not because they are against change itself, but because this is in no way a change for the better. Yahoo has abandoned it’s long time users and left them with an email UI that is a shadow of it’s former self, leaving them no choice but to find an alternative.

  • Marti Lovejoy

    SO, Yahoo has already moved on to a Flickr update, having unleashed new versions of Mail and Groups on unsuspecting and unwilling USERS in an apparent multi-million-user Beta test. Requests to add back the features that USERS desperately want and need are being largely ignored by Yahoo. What once took one or two clicks now takes 5-6, if the method can be found at all. It’s all about shiny with Yahoo, not functionality. Should be no surprise that ad revenue is down – unhappy USERS do not click ads when they are scrambling to figure out unwieldy interface changes.

  • ad

    new yahoomail is a poor design taxes eyes ….i wear glasses and this
    new design hurts my eyes…..i am slowly trying to move away from
    yahoomail now. yahoomail is not dependable…..they change without
    notice….who knows one fine day they will decide 1tb is a lot and take
    away and give us 1mb space deleting all important mails …so in other
    words yahoomail is not reliable better to find a reliable mail soon.

    • J. C. Smith

      I suggest GMX.com

  • J. C. Smith

    I left Yahoo Mail last fall when the new changes hit. I don’t miss them at all. GMiX is much better.

    I was a paying user and have used Yahoo Mail more than 13 years but the new changes are intolerable and left my email unusable.

 
 
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