Without doubt, the most challenging part of the move to Google Apps has been the reaction from some to the fundamental way in which Google Mail structures the information that is presented to the user. Individual emails are threaded together into logical conversations, and you don't put emails into folders, you can place labels onto conversations.
Reading a review of the new Microsoft Exchange product this morning, it is very notable that threading has been adopted as the default view on Outlook Web Access (the browser-based version of the MS collaboration product). This reflects what I am convinced of – threading makes more sense, and makes information easier to handle.
If you look at an email product from the early days of GUIs, you'll find that (accepting the improvement in graphic layout that 20 years of UI design has given us), remarkably little has changed. The picture above is of MS Mail, which from memory (along with Schedule Plus) was the predecessor of Outlook. It's a lot less fussy, but there are folders, and there are individual emails.
That was a layout that was designed in a very different (very email light) world. And not much had changed in traditional email clients…
The problem is, if the technology doesn't evolve, then we as users have to adapt and create working practices that help us over the limitations of the technology. And even if those adaptations are laborious and time consuming, we own them, and often find it very difficult to give them up. And then when we try to use a new tool in a way that tries to fit with our old practices, a world of pain emerges.
Imagine, for example, getting a sat nav, and then trying to use it in exactly the way in which you would use a paper map. That's the sort of challenge that many users are facing with the new tools that can save them time, but take even longer to use than the old tools if you don't let the software take on some of the drudgery…

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