Gmail takes conventional e-mail and improves on some of the flaws inherent in it. E-mail has gone mostly unchanged in functionality (other than spam blocking technology, which is still hugely flawed) in recent years. The most exciting thing about the introduction of Gmail is a new e-mail race, that should increase innovation in the field.
Conventional e-mail is usually difficult to archive, either because of web-based storage limits or because of the effort required to manually file our correspondence in whatever desktop environment we choose to use. Gmail remedies the archiving problem by allowing users to label all e-mails in user set categories (for instance, all Live Journal comments that are sent to me end up classified as LJ once I have finished with them) and by keeping conversations grouped together. Each e-mail saved on Gmail is also searchable, so that the user can find old e-mails they require info from at any time. The Gmail feature that makes this all posible is the 1 GB storage limit, which allows messages to be stored indefinitely.
So far I’m very impressed with Gmail. I have some minor complaints about the grouping of conversations (some e-mails were grouped in error) and the lack of built in POP3 support, but for a testing service it’s wonderfully impressive. Gmail is far superior to other free e-mail services, and should improve over time. It’ll be worth leaving Hotmail and Yahoo for, certainly.