GMail "Conversation View" to become an option

One of the signature features of Google's Gmail e-mail service is about to become optional. The company said Wednesday that over the next few days it would allow its users to turn off "conversation view," which organizes e-mail threads onto a single page for easier viewing.

Technical lead Wiltse Carpenter said the move was aimed at drawing in users who may be passing up Gmail because of their dislike for the way it formats your inbox. "The way Gmail organizes mail into conversations is like cilantro," he quipped. "You either love it ... or you hate it."

Hatred for conversation view has led to several complaints in the company's Gmail support message board. Some detractors have even gone as far as to join a Facebook group titled "No to Gmail Conversation View."

As with most changes to Google's products, the rollout would be gradual. The option would be found on the main settings page, with a checkbox to turn the feature on and off. With it off, inboxes would appear as they would in a standard e-mail client.

"If you change your mind, you can always go back," Carpenter said.

Google also hopes that the change will help IT deployments field less customer support calls due to the different way that conversation view operates from the traditional Outlook or Lotus inboxes they may be used to. In fact, much of the impetus behind this change likely has a lot to do with enterprise concerns.

"I personally prefer threaded conversations, but as an administrator who still needs to support some long-time Outlook users on Gmail, the unthreaded option is like gold," Sanmina-SCI systems engineer Russ Midford said in a statement posted by Google.

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