Raise your hand if you’ve seen the dreaded “Still Working” error as Gmail takes half an hour to complete even the simplest functions.

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That’s what I thought.

I love Gmail. Search and threaded conversations have changed the way I use email, making me much efficient than I ever could have imagined back in the dark days of Outlook.

But in recent weeks, Gmail has been routinely slowing to a crawl, making you want to gnaw your hand off while waiting for an email thread to expand, or a search to execute. Gmail’s scratch-your-eyes-out slowness has been attributed to the release of Gmail 2.0. It also seems they’ve been rolling out new features with live upgrades — which nobody but Google could even imagine attempting.

I’m willing to cut most web services a fair amount slack if they go down or slow down once in a while — it’s real a challenge to reproduce the always-on, always-available application experience of the desktop. But Google has more servers than god, so my expectations are just a little higher.

One reason why Google search still dominates is that it’s so consistently FAST. Clearly Google hasn’t set the same bar for its other services.

Google probably knows that my searchable email archives — including sent items — make switching from Gmail a tough proposition. It’s the kind of practical data lock-in that Facebook dreams about.

So while I can’t — nor do I really want — to switch from Gmail, I can take some small satisfaction in shouting from the rough tops.
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Enough is enough! *

Memo to Google: You want to slow your web services to a crawl, give me an offline client and you can do whatever the heck want.