I am fierce advocate of owning your data, in fact I think you do yourself a disservice by plowing your precious time and energy into free or paid service that remain the legal possession of that service. This is especially true for social networks and even email services. I was appropriately happy to hear the following announcement coming from the Official Gmail Blog:

Having access to your data and being able to take it with you is important, especially if that data contains precious memories like old love letters, your first job offer, or that 100-message thread discussing the merits of various cat videos. Starting today we're rolling out the ability to export a copy of your Gmail and Google Calendar data, making it easy to back up your data or move to another service.

You can download all of your mail and calendars or choose a subset of labels and calendars. You can also download a single archive file for multiple products with a copy of your Gmail, Calendar, Google+, YouTube, Drive, and other Google data.

In my overly optimistic mind I am assuming this is a purely noble attempt by Google to promote enfettered access to your own data, my hope is that it expands to Google+ and its other social based sites.

Unfortunately no good deed goes unpunished, so in response Microsoft appears to be pouncing on this opportunity to make the process of switching from Gmail to Outlook completely seamless. While on the surface the move appears opportunistic I believe that if all the online services provided this level of openness it would push innovation in those spaces forward, as consumers would be secure in the fact that they can easily move information between providers.

Well done Google!