Bill Gates Didn't Understand Gmail

Google's Gmail is one of the very best in free webmail services. Originally thought to be an Fool's Day joke when it was announced on April 1, 2004 with its 1 GB of free storage (massive for email at the time), Gmail today has grown its storage quota for its free accounts to nearly 8 GB.

While Gmail's users loved the spaciousness and the promise by Google that nothing would ever need to be deleted again, another "Big G" – Bill Gates – didn't understand why anyone would need that much storage space.

Author Steven Levy detailed in his new book about Google, In the Plex, how he had a conversation with Gates where the Microsoft founder was puzzled by Gmail's quota.

Levy told Gates that he had already "consumed more than half of Gmail's 2-gigabyte free storage space." Gates "looked stunned, as if this offended him," as relayed by a story from the Huffington Post.

Gates supposedly asked, "How could you need more than a gig? What've you got in there? Movies? Power-Point presentations? How many messages are there? … Seriously, I'm trying to understand whether it's the number of messages or the size of messages."

The author wrote in his book, "After doing the math in his head, he came to the conclusion that Google was doing something wrong."

At that point, Gates had already signed up for a Gmail account to give it a try, so it wasn't due to unfamiliarity with the service.

"Oh sure, I play with everything… I play with A-Mail, B-Mail, C-Mail, I play with all of them," Gates apparently said, likely with a hint of jest.

While this may paint a picture of Gates of being behind the times, his point was that pure email shouldn't require an exorbitant amount of space – if the content is mostly text-based. Once you throw in attachments, then it's more than just plain email.

Of course, now even Microsoft's own Hotmail service offers 5 GB of storage as a starting point. As stated on the Live page:

Hotmail storage grows as you need it, so you shouldn't have to worry about deleting old email. You'll start with 5 GB. If you ever get close to filling that up, you'll automatically get more space. (Of course, this assumes a reasonable growth rate.)

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  • CsG_kieran_2
    So basically Bill thinks less is better?

    You should get to work trimming down Windows 7 then...
  • Zingam
    CsG_kieran_2So basically Bill thinks less is better?You should get to work trimming down Windows 7 then...

    And I've never been able what is Microsoft doing with these $300 they require per Windows licence.
    And I don't understand the need that everybody should update their PC each two years. The hardware should last at least 5 years and the software well the OS for 10.
  • jamesedgeuk2000
    Bill was perfectly correct at the time, unless you were receiving like 100 emails a day the only reason you would have needed that much space at the time is because you never bother deleting your old email. Hotmail has raised to 5GB because its now recognised that most email users are lazy and its easier to pander to them than train them better, its that simple, I doubt anyone out there really has 5-8GB of emails that must be kept as they are super important. I mean how many is that? its gotta be in excess of 100,000 emails O.o