For quite some time, I've been irritated by Google's "forward-thinking" take on mail folders, having instead replaced them with metadata tags. It makes it difficult to find something you popped into the archive in many mail clients, and leads to stupid problems where the fact that IMAP has no standard names for "what do we call the folder where messages the user no longer wants?" and "where do we put copies of the things this person wrote and sent?" Everyone got it figured out with Drafts, but there's trash/deleted messages/deleted items for the former and sent/sent items/sent messages for the latter. That means you have at least two places to look for copies of messages you might need to find.
I get it. Google wants you to use the web client so they can vacuum up someone's precious per-view.
I don't live in a world where I web client constantly, though. I look at my email on my mobile phone, one of two tablets, my mac's email client which can use the built-in notification center to tell me I have messages waiting, and outlook at work where I keep my work mail and calendar. It makes sense for me, and I would wager this to be the case for a large number of people who do things like 'work regular jobs,' to have one place to go for my data. I'm sorry I don't use a chromebook while I scrawl marketing ideas for my etsy storefront in a Moleskine at starbucks.
Then we can start to talk about what's happened with Google Talk. What used to be a strict XMPP-driven chat solution has morphed into a closed implementation of ... something... that enables many-way audio-visual chat with no further interoperability. Google's apparently accused other IM providers of not being open with their private solutions. In a classic case of two wrongs make a clusterwhoops, I can't use Google Talk from Outlook.com or Windows messenger, despite the fact that it was once-upon-a-time based on an open standard.
Accordingly, I became angry. Angry about cities.
So what's the solution?
It'd be great if everyone could bail because of my indignant rage. I don't expect them to. I expect a lot of people are happy to live in their browser, and are happy to use Google-derived products only to access Google apps. I was one until a sexy camera pulled me off my platform. The solution for me appears to be to jump ship and go with a competing product (which has a much cleaner web interface and the ability to attach files larger than 25MB to messages if need be) because I feel the company behind it is doing a better job supporting that product across multiple platforms. Outlook.com works well on my Mac, seems to work well on my PC at work in the rare event it's performing well with any task, and should be quite well suited to life in Windows Phone. It'd be nice to be able to sever from google completely, but there are a few things the company continues to do right, even for someone as picky as me. First and foremost, if I clean my gunk off gmail, I gain another bundle of space for photos at Picasaweb/Google+. Second, Blogger (duh). Third, Android. I still have an Android tablet device and may have an Android phone again at some point in the future. I'm considering swapping out to a Windows 8.1 device instead of my Transformer Pad Infinity, but I'm not in a hurry to do so because the solution works. Importantly, should I change back to Android for pocket computing, using Outlook.com for personal mail will mean I can integrate my mail folders into one app, instead of having vastly different email clients for Google mail and work mail.
For now, I'm going to have to recognize that I have a difficult transition to make (insofar as getting all of my web service memberships swapped from one email address to another), and I know I'll need to keep my gmail account as a part of my regular checks for a while. I'm pretty sure this is the right decision in the long run, though, as it will enable me to whine about something other than Mac OS X mail creating labels for me when I email people from now on.