I have a tendency of using multiple computers in my life. Between having a PowerBook, an HP laptop, multiple servers, a Mac in the music studio and my work computer, I never know where I’m going to check my e-mail from. To solve this problem I have abandoned the use of mail programs that reside on a computer and have opted to use the web-based mail clients instead. There are several to choose from including Hotmail, Yahoo!, AIM/AOL and Gmail. I decided to run with Gmail from Google.

I dislike it.

Now I know that anything Google does is the bees knees of the geek set. I love their search engine, I love their calendar and I love their photo editing software, Picasa. I get Google. But I just can’t wrap my head around Gmail. I find the interface maddening.

First of all, I have this tin-foil hat thing going on with messages being archived forever. This isn’t necessarily a fault of Google, as all of the web-based mail clients do this, but for some reason when I see messages such as “You don’t have to delete your messages, ever!” as an advertising point, I get nervous. Somewhere, someone is reading some seedy message that has been sent to my account (obviously in error) and I don’t like that. As I work for an internet provider, I can confidently say that there are no secrets on the internet, but for some reason that whole “store it in the cloud” thing makes me nervous. That’s not Google/Gmail’s fault however.

What I really don’t like about Gmail is the interface. With efforts in simplicity and trying to look like the Google default homepage, Google has made the interface somewhat non-standard. I haven’t found a way to drag and drop files where I want them. I have a hard time finding the print button and I don’t like the way the messages are grouped into discussions.

Surprisingly, I like Hotmail. Even though Hotmail is part of Microsoft, for some reason I don’t get as nervous about them storing my old e-mail. I figure they’ll lose them sooner or later like most Windows users lose their files from time to time. I’ve been a Hotmail user since the days before it was owned by Microsoft, so using their software is like wearing a comfortable shirt. In addition, Microsoft has tweaked the interface enough that it’s now much like Outlook, which we use at work. Again, it’s the comfortable shirt thing.

I’m thinking of moving off of Gmail and onto Hotmail. I know it isn’t the trendy thing to do but for me I think it’ll work better, and after all, I like doing my own thing.