According to a recent rumor, Google may allow its more traditional Gmail users to turn off its conversations user interface.

image via Cristina Plana

Update: A Google spokesperson confirmed the move to me today saying,

We’re always improving Gmail based on user feedback. A

small but passionate group of people

prefer the unthreaded view of mail and we’re eager to offer them this option.”

I love the threaded email conversations user interface as a way to read my Gmail.  In fact, it is the reason I prefer to use the web client rather than using an IMAP desktop client like Outlook or  In my mind, once you’ve used it, it is nearly impossible to go back to flat email systems. In fact, Apple and Microsoft are copying Google in their desktop mail clients to allow threaded viewing.

However, a lot of Gmail users, especially new ones, can’t stand the conversations view.

To those people, SAI may have some good news: They’ve received word that Google may unveil a more traditional way to read email. Details are thin, but the service would help Google reach out to a “more traditional” userbase who might be used to AOL, Hotmail, or Yahoo Mail’s way of doing webmail.

Google recently handed control over Gmail to a VP named Vic Gundotra. Vic regards Google’s prior attitude toward the issue as “tone deafness” and plans to offer another option soon, sources say.

For those of us who have to help noobs get set up in Gmail, this would be welcoming news.