MIAMI, 20 OCTOBER 2008 - Google's redesign of its iGoogle personalized home page has triggered an avalanche of complaints from users who dislike the changes.
Since the redesign's launch on Thursday, users have flooded discussion forums and blog comment sections to mostly criticize iGoogle's facelift.
For example, at the Personalizing Google section of the official Google Web Search Help discussion forum, users have created more than 800 discussion threads.
Many of those threads have tens of messages, some even more than 100 messages, a sign that passions are running high among iGoogle users upset that their personal portal page to the Web has been altered in ways they don't like and without any prior warning.
In iGoogle, as in similar "home page" services from competitors, users can aggregate information, "gadget" Web applications and syndicated feeds, so that it serves as a sort of central hub of their online activities.
Personalized home-page services such as iGoogle are increasingly important for Google and its Web portal rivals -- including Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft's MSN -- as they fight it out for the attention of consumers online by consolidating their chosen services on a single page.
The stakes in this space have been raised by the booming popularity in recent years of social-networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook, which have become the central starting points of tens of millions of people's Internet activities.
The main changes to iGoogle include the ability to increase a gadget application to a full screen, something Google calls "canvas view," and a new left-hand navigation bar.
So far, at least one online petition has been started, requesting that iGoogle users get the option to revert their portal pages to the old design, which they preferred.
A common complaint seems directed at the new left-hand navigation column, which many gripe takes up valuable screen real estate and adds little value to their user experience.
In addition, people are complaining about the Gmail "gadget" application in iGoogle. Google has acknowledged that there is a problem with this Gmail gadget, which has made links in e-mail messages inactive. Google is working to resolve the problem.
Some users are also objecting to previews of Gmail messages showing up by default via the Gmail gadget because they use iGoogle at work and don't want this information to be viewed by others. According to a Google representative posting on the discussion forum and identified as Paul, Google is working to address this issue.
In fact, due to user feedback, Google has already restored at least one feature it had eliminated: a "+" sign for showing syndicated feed previews.
Most of the gripes are well-articulated in a thread titled The Official new iGoogle Constructive Criticism Thread, which is nearing 100 postings. Not all threads share its civil tone. For example, there is one called I hate the new iGoogle and another one titled New iGoogle Sucks.
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