Google Imageless Buttons

google imageless buttons
google imageless buttons

This morning I noticed something new in my gmail — a perculiar looking button style. From what I can tell, Google has decided to abandon the browser default buttons and build their own button using DIVs. The DIVs are layered like matryoshka dolls, complete with hover and on key down effects.

Surprisingly to me, they did not even use an anchor tag anywhere with these buttons. I wonder what was their motivation to do this. Is it because they want a uniform look across all browsers? Is the Google engineering team being pressured by an over-bearing designer? Or is this some new cool trend that I am not yet aware of?

I have always been an advocate of browser defaults, but this is making me question my devotion to praticality.