In 2004, Gmail arrived as an invitation-only product on beta platform. After several design changes, it finally dropped the beta label in 2009.In Gmail, Microsoft offered a spam-free inbox with integrated search tool and loads of storage capacity that was enough to beat the rivals.

It was Gmail that gave webmail a slick snappiness more akin to a desktop application.

"It left clunky old Hotmail in the dust. New messages just appeared, chat windows popped up instantly - all without a browser refresh. Today, we all expect websites to behave like real applications," a report in wired.com said.

No special software was required. You never had to worry about storage. It was always there. There were no messy connections, just a simple password login.

(Agencies)

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