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Users hate Yahoo's 'gorgeous' new look, call it 'Gmail knock-off'

  • Yahoo's free email service is becoming a bit more like Google's Gmail as part of its second makeover in less than a year.Yahoo

  • A new feature will enable Yahoo's email users to decorate their inboxes with pictures plucked from the company's photo-sharing service, Flickr.Yahoo

  • Yahoo's free email service is becoming a bit more like Google's Gmail as part of its second makeover in less than a year.Yahoo

If they wanted Gmail, they would have gone to Google.

Yahooligans are yodeling in rage over the broken features and unfamiliar interface that came with a significant new redesign to the Yahoo email service -- a look that many are dismissing as Gmail knockoff.

Yahoo Mail's estimated 275 million users were angered to discover many of the service's most useful features were gone -- such as the "print" button and the ability to sort emails by sender -- when the new look debuted Oct. 8. Flash forward a week and the votes are in: Users call the makeover a total disaster. 

'Someone said 10 lashes to the Yahoo team. I don't think that's a sufficient number of lashes.'

- Frustrated Yahoo user

"Someone said 10 lashes to the Yahoo team. I think that is not a sufficient number of lashes," one especially frustrated user wrote on Yahoo's message boards.

Other common complaints included broken functions such as autosave, draft deletion and disappearing emails. Indeed, thousands of complaints have been lodged on Yahoo's website, and a Change.org petition has gained 1,500 signatures and counting demanding the return of the old mail look. 

"Many of us have used Yahoo Mail for over a decade," Change.org petition organizer Jan Hyatt wrote. "Most of us picked Yahoo because of its interface. We don't like Gmail! Please let us go back!"

"This is the worst email inbox design," a Facebook group dedicated to bringing back the old Yahoo Mail wrote in an open letter to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. "Please revert back to the previous version of mail which we have all relied on for years and maintained loyalty to Yahoo brand despite Google's initiatives to lure us away."

The similarities to Gmail probably aren't coincidental. Mayer helped design some of Gmail's features while she was a top executive at Google.

The redesign includes a Gmail-like tool that will thread together emails related to specific topics so they appear as a succession of messages. The "conversation view" has become a widely used email feature since Gmail helped popularize the concept after it embraced the format in 2004.

Another new feature will enable Yahoo's email users to decorate their inboxes with a selection of scenic pictures plucked from the company's photo-sharing service, Flickr. Gmail has been allowing its users to spruce up their inboxes with various themes for years.

The outrage over the redesign has left many non-Yahoo users with one question: who still uses the service with the outdated reputation?

Since defecting from Google 15 months ago, Mayer has been revamping many of Yahoo's services in an attempt to attract more Web surfers and bring in more revenue from ads.

Yahoo's ad sales remain lackluster at a time Google and Facebook are enjoying strong growth, but Mayer says the number of monthly visitors to the company's services has increased by 20 percent to 800 million people since her arrival.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.