Too bad I didn't know how difficult it was to score a Gmail invite when I signed up, else I would've tried to score an address like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. (Shortly after writing this, I found out that Gmail requires a minimum of six characters as your user name to counter spamming -- good job, Google.)
- Initial impressions:
* Ease of use: the revolutionary feature of Gmail is that messages are threaded. That makes the layout work a little like ezboard, with the e-mail exchanges feeling conversational. It also eliminates the need for automatic copy of previous text (the dreaded ">").
It's hard to overstate how much easier this feature makes e-mail browsing.
* Search: As expected, the search function is pretty amazing. You can search by filters -- sender, subject line, text, etc. In fact, Gmail uses search filters instead of folders to sort, so you never have to spend eons moving messages to folders.
* Address book: addresses are automatically saved, with a feature that allows for sorting by frequency of correspondence.
* Shortcuts: haven't tried this yet, but one-stroke shortcuts are supposed to be a great feature.
* Storage: 1,000 megs, man, or 1 gigabyte. More than I'll ever need. And hopefully, I'll stop paying for fucking Yahoo! mail's extra storage space. (The storage space is one key selling point for Gmail; I wonder how Yahoo! will respond?)
Absent a major revamping by Yahoo and Hotmail, I expect Gmail to eventually overtake those internet e-mail accounts in popularity. It's probably the first step in Google's eventual domination of the portal market.
I'm pretty loyal to Yahoo, easily the site I most frequently use, but you gotta hand it to Google for their innovations.