Google's online applications enjoy a high profile, and many of them are great--but they may not always be the best options. Here are some other Web-hosted utilities and sites that let you live large online.
Curious about how a tech-oriented person would survive on a diet consisting entirely of Web-based apps? Then read "Life Without Software," the companion piece to this article.
1 Yahoo Mail: Yahoo's "classic" Web mail provides standard contact, calendar, and spam-filtering features in a utilitarian interface. But click on the link for the new beta version, and you'll be treated to an updated interface that organizes the same options on screen more efficiently, leaving room for lots of advertising. Banishing ads costs $20 per year.
2 Windows Live Hotmail: Microsoft's Web-hosted mail service replicates Outlook's traditional interface, with features such as folders, spam filtering, contact management, mailing-list-like contact groups, and a calendar. Though it lacks some Gmail innovations, including labels and the ability to grab and consolidate mail from other POP accounts, Windows Live Hotmail works well and for free.
Calendars and Lists
3 Planzo: Like Google Calendar, Planzo allows you to share your calendar with other users or with the Web-browsing public. You also get handy to-do lists and notebook features.
4 Remember the Milk: The focus of this awkwardly named but elegantly designed site is on three lists--tasks that are due tomorrow, due today, or overdue--and the locations (pinpointed on a Google map, if you wish) where they occur. You can share tasks with other RtM users, take them offline via Google Gears support, and synchronize them to a Windows Mobile phone with a $25-a-year Remember the Milk Pro account.