I noticed that Chris Gilmer reported this morning that Gmail is now supporting IMAP for getting your mail as well as POP.
I quickly logged into my GMail account and Lo!, there was the IMAP option – wohoo!
Why is this a good thing? Well, previously if you wanted to read your Gmail in your email client application (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) you had to use the POP protocol. IMAP is a better protocol for doing that because as Alex Chitu pointed out:
you’re always connected to the server, more clients can connect to the same account, you can obtain the text from a message without the attachments and the state information is synchronized (you can add labels from the client, read or delete a message and Gmail will synchronize).
Of course Hotmail (or as it is now mis-nomered Windows Live Mail) still doesn’t even allow POP access (unless you pay for it), never mind IMAP. This leads to many people’s accounts being deleted and losing all their email (happened to me last year).
Hotmail used to be a ground-breaking product until Microsoft got their hands on it and slowly squeezed the life out of it.