On Tuesday, Google shut off offline access to Gmail on Chrome, Safari, Opera and the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft's Internet Explorer. The company also added a new feature to Gmail that surfaces information from Gmail contacts.
Google recommended that Chrome users temporarily switch to older versions of Internet Explorer or Firefox and refuse updates to continue accessing Gmail when not Web-connected.
The move is part of a push by Google to switch from Gears -- the desktop software it developed years ago to improve utility for Web applications such as Gmail and Google Docs -- to HTML5.
Google promised a new Chrome Web app for using Gmail offline sometime this summer. Until then, Google said Internet Explorer 8 and Firefox 3.6 will still work for Gmail users without an Internet connection.
Google also announced new features to Gmail. Over the next two weeks, the company will be rolling out a new "people widget" located on the right hand side of users' Gmail messages. The people widget surfaces content from friends, family and colleagues that is already available to users, Google said.
Next to every email message, Gmail users will be able to see contextual information about the people in that conversation including recent emails they received from them, relevant Buzz posts, shared documents and calendar events. Users will also have quick access to a variety of ways to communicate with individuals, start a group chat or schedule a meeting with groups of people.