I had since rooted again using KFU, and when the last update to 6.3 was pushed, I was pleasantly surprised that the update, while breaking root again, did NOT screw up my Google apps -- gmail, maps and gTalk all still worked fine! I don't know how, but when I look in my system/app folder, the one that gets cleared/overwritten when updated, there are no Google services framework or app apks in there at all, yet my Google apps all work fine (not sure where the framework and apps are installed now). I have since rooted once again using KFU. I'm a bit techy, so I don't mind messing around a bit with my device, BUT....
I am getting a kindle fire for my mother -- I'm going to set it up with GO launcher, a bunch of sideloaded apps, and I would like to also install gmail, maps and gTalk without requiring root to be maintained, basically because I am then going to ship the device to her and will not want to continue to root and restore the google apps' functionality after every next update is pushed, because I would have to get her to do this while I walk her through the process over the phone, and this is not something that would make anybody happy.
So, I am hoping we can revive the discussion about how to install the Google services framework and apps without requiring root or at least in hopes that future updates will not break them. I am not opposed to rooting the device while I set it up, because I will want to install a permanent animated wallpaper, but I will unroot it so that Amazon Video will work before I send it off.
I have done quite a bit of searching through old threads, and there is not much talk about installing Google services and apps without root and so that updates don't screw with them. But I know it can be done, because it is working with mine.
I think this would be helpful to a LOT of people who are not yet ready to root and/or flash a new ROM.