I personally use Gmail for everything -- including both work and personal email. Once you truely drink the juice, it's really hard to go back to another mail client.
Dan Resinger offers a list of 5 things that annoy him about Gmail -- I'm going to do the opposite, and tell you 5 things that annoy me about every other mail client on the planet, since I'm a true full-time Gmail user.
- Nobody handles conversations the as well as Gmail does True, you can switch to "conversation view" in Outlook -- but can you tell me where to find your own responses in a conversation thread? They aren't there -- you will have to browse through your sent items or "search" for them. I need a (smart) unified message thread that represents an entire conversation -- not just messages that have come from other people, and are grouped by message subject regardless if they were part of that specific conversation or not.
- No labels = no good If you must, you can think of "labels" as "folders". The difference, of course, is that you can put many labels on one message -- or using "folder" terminology, you can put a single message in multiple folders when it makes sense. Most mail clients insist on making me put messages into an overly complex hierarchy of folders.
- Every other mail client is either local-only, or has a crappy user experience
For me, desktop clients feel pretty old-school. Why would I want all my mail stored on my computer -- susceptible to hard drive failure, archive corruption or even viruses? Accessing my email from anywhere, on any computer is very important to me. Granted, IMAP does pretty much solve this specific frustration.
There are several other web-based clients out there, but I personally can't say that I like any of them. No, it's not because I blog about Google and have a secret crush on them -- it's because Gmail already has everything I need, and I know features will be added and improved on continuously. Trying to follow Gmail, many other web-based mail clients have taken a more AJAXy approach, but they are trying too hard. In my opinion, drag and drop doesn't belong in a web application -- it doesn't feel natural.
- I need more than just an inbox Some mail clients, like Outlook, do in fact have a pretty decent collection of "other stuff", like a task list or calendar, but Gmail offers all of those things, plus stuff that other traditional mail clients don't. A couple of the things I find very useful in Gmail are Google Talk integration, and of course the "Missing Attachment Detector" -- Genius.
- Downloading and opening attachments just doesn't feel right Gmail lets me preview most attachments, or open in something like Google Docs without downloading the attachment at all. This makes me feel a bit more secure, and as an added benefit, it's usually a lot quicker than downloading, and waiting for something like Microsoft Word to open.
Which camp are you in?