If this really works, it transforms the world of email -- and may be the step that will finally liberate me from Outlook and its gigantic, touchy PST files: offline access for Gmail. Report in the official Google Enterprise blog here. Early report from Network World that alerted me to the development here.

I have, alas, enough real-world, late-on-deadline, day-job writing ahead of me in the next 24 hours that I don't even have time to check this out and see how it works. There will be much more to say later on about what this means for "cloud computing," for desktop apps (like Outlook), for Google's plans, and all the rest. And I certainly will try to get it applied before my next long plane trip not long from now.

For the moment it is sufficient to say: Check this out!

Update: An initial "wait a minute, how will this really work?" second thought. For all of Gmail really to be available and searchable offline, the entire cache of old messages would obviously have to be stored on your own hard disk. That's now a maximum 7+ gigs per regular Gmail account. More if you've bought extra storage. Do I really want to have all of that on my laptop -- which is the main place where offline access matters? From a couple of Gmail accounts? And Google's "Gears" system of offline sync, already in use with Google Docs, seems to create a separate cache for each browser you use it with. So you could wind up with one 7GB cache for Firefox, and one for Chrome, and...  Will there be a way to choose how far back you'd like the sync to run?
 
Back to "real" work -- I'll worry about all this later. 

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