Gmail has always had a way to do local email processing - it's called IMAP. I use both Mozilla Thunderbird and the built-in email client in Opera as IMAP clients to gmail. If gmail didn't have IMAP cabability, I wouldn't use it.
I don't have to see or use the horribly crappy gmail web interface except for once or twice a year when I log in to create a filter to tell it to stop automatically routing some forum's "new post" messages to the spam directory. (Yup, gmail has a nasty little habit of blackholing certain forum's new post messages - for some reason I keep getting the feeling that Oberfuhrer Schmidt doesn't exactly approve of all my choices as regards forums...) Instead I use a real email client that gives me a much more useful interface to work with - and no ads.
IMAP is the best of both worlds - it allows me to store my email, sorted into sub-directories (what the uninitiated would call folders) on the email servers AND keep a fully synchronized backup of all my directories and messages on my local machines (in Thunderbird in Winblows and in Opera in Lunix).
Of course, I also have other email accounts on other servers - all with IMAP capability. By using a real email client, I can manage all my accounts from a single interface, and can also send and receive messages that Google doesn't get to see. Also, I can answer email offline, and it'll get sent whenever I get online again.
What can I say - after more than a decade in the I.T. business I'm a dedicated privacy advocate...subversive I know...but it feels so good to be naughty.
(And speaking of privacy; How about this new movement towards legislating "do not track"? I think it's awesome!
I do wonder if they'll ever get around to making it also apply to retail stores' "rewards" cards...after all the whole point of inventing the rewards cards was to enable purchase tracking and consumer profiling. You didn't really believe that the corporations jacked up all prices by 2% and then offered a 2% discount to anyone who "voluntarily" signed up to be tracked as a favor to you. Did you? That sort of tracking system costs hella money to setup and operate. Who pays for it? You didn't really think it saves you money. Did you?
I know...many will say, "So what? I don't care if they track my purchases". Yes, no big deal today, but down the road when your health insurance provider denies you dental coverage because you bought too many sugary cereals and not enough dental floss....or you get denied coverage for heart disease because you bought too much meat...or coverage for liver disease because you bought too much alcohol...)
As regards GoogleOS and the cloud...
It has been known in the I.T. industry for decades that the key to controlling what users can and cannot do, is to make the computer an appliance. The ideal, from the corporations' point of view, would be to make it like a cable TV box - the user pays rent on it, but the corporation owns and controls it.
Second best, is to sell them the hardware outright, but retain control of the software. Sound familiar?
Controlling what users can and cannot do on the Information Super InterWebs is a little more difficult. Though it's a lot easier if you control all of the major services they use on the web, AND control the hardware and software they use to get online.
But it's not just about control. No no...it's also about micro billing.
Micobilling is of course not new. I remember back in the mid-90's when Visa and IBM created the first microbilling system, based on the old SET protocol:
Here's an article from 1998 about DEC's MilliCent microbilling system:
When Java was invented, one of the nicest things about it was how beautifully it enabled microbilling. The user downloads (and pays a few pennies for) an applet, which then compiles and runs. Next time they need that applet, they have to download it again. For a corporation, that's almost as good as selling children sugar, and then once they are grown, selling them insulin for the rest of their lives. Sun was justifiably proud.
Well...it may be inevitable that corporations will ultimately control all that we can and cannot do with our computers and the Internet and will microbill us by the byte for bandwidth, storage and every time we use the software or access a file.
But until that day comes - I'll stay independent as long as I can, and they can just kiss my hairy butt.
Current: 76 E-250, bubble-top, self-contained|couple of old Yamaha enduros
Previous wheelers: 41 Willys|78 FJ40|78 Bronco|84 Bronco|74 Ramcharger|78 Ramcharger|79 D150 PowerWagon|77 D100|79 D400 dually, converted to 4WD, utility bed, 10' Lance|75 Westy|69 Scout, RHD|bunch of others|bunch of bikes|couple of boats|couple of motorhomes|blah blah|so what|not my idea|just doin' what I'm told|wank wank|this space for rent|candy is dandy|but liquor is quicker