Google is planning to discontinue another product in its lineup, one that has been around for a very long time. The Basic HTML version of Gmail, designed for legacy browsers or slower connections, will no longer be available starting from January 2024, when it will automatically change to Standard view when loaded.
The Basic HTML version of Gmail is very stripped back when compared to Standard view, missing a significant number of features such as Chat, contact import, and rich formatting. Google recommends in the support page that users switch to the Standard view to gain access to those features on desktop and mobile browsers.
The change was first noticed by The Register, and it later asked Google for a statement on why it decided to remove Basic HTML from Gmail. The company replied the following:
"The Gmail Basic HTML views are previous versions of Gmail that were replaced by their modern successors 10+ years ago and do not include full Gmail feature functionality."
Google has a reputation for removing services from its portfolio with little to no warning, a recent example being the removal of YouTube Stories after 5 years. A community-driven archive, known as Killed by Google, has been documenting every product that has met a similar fate since 2018.
Additionally, users who are blind or visually impaired have spoken out since the discovery as they use the Basic version due to better compatibility with screen readers and easier navigation. Google even includes a link to the support page for thoseusing Screen Readers with Gmail on the same page as the Basic HTML support page, unintentionally acknowledging the issue with removing access to it.
Products don't always get discontinued following an announcement. However, in 2022, Google opted to keep the G Suite legacy free edition alive for personal use due to complaints from its users who did not want to move to its replacement, Google Workspace.
Source: The Register