I've been using web based email for a few years and the ability to see get to your email from anywhere is great. However, there are always some things that I felt where missing. Web 2.0, AJAX enabled web email sites such as gmail, live.com, beta yahoo mail are trying to mimic the functionality of Outlook email client. Well... why use something that mimics Outlook, if you can use the original Outlook without loosing the benefits of WebMail.
GMail allows to connect Outlook via POP. Yahoo Mails provides the same functionality for its paid service, and at only $19.99 a year, it might be worth it for many people. AOL provides IMap functionality free of charge. There are plusses and minuses to both IMap and POP. POP requires Outlook to download a copy of the message to be able to read it. IMap stores messages on the server and reads each message when it needs to.
Full instructions on connecting gmail.com to your outlook are available here: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=13278&topic=1556
I opted to keeping my emails on the server to make sure that I have full access to my emails from the web interface
Here are a few benefits your get with sending email from your outlook
- Offline email access
- Ability to set tracking options for emails (return and delivery receipts)
- Full contacts information (GMail contacts are still very rudumentary)
- Consolidation of multiple email providers in one email client