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Pressing Ctrl+N in the Mail app opens this Compose window, where you can create, format, and send a Gmail message without having to use the web browser. The To and Cc boxes can pull names and email addresses from your Gmail contacts list.
One advantage of the lightweight Windows 8 Mail client is that you can configure it to show only recent messages. Click Settings and choose your Gmail account to see these options.
The default setting is 2 weeks, although you can adjust that to a few days, a week, a month, or your entire mailbox. Note you can also create a custom signature.
One big advantage of the Windows 8 app model is that it allows apps to share information with each other, using the Share API. In this case, I've opened a web page in the Windows 8 version of Chrome. I then used the Share charm to choose Mail, which opened this pane on the side with a link and thumbnail entered automatically.
Enter a recipient name, add some message text, and click or tap send. If you have other Windows 8 apps installed, including Twitter and Facebook clients, you can use them to share as well. If Google opens the Google+ API, it would make sharing possible via this route as well.