Google Testing Free Webmail

Search engine Google is keeping the heat on its rivals with
the upcoming launch of a free webmail service, known as Gmail.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said it is offering a preview
version to a “small number of e-mail
aficionados.” When fully available, the free webmail service is
expected to have the storage capacity of up to eight billion bits of
information, the equivalent of 500,000 pages of e-mail. Per user.

When fully launched, Google said Gmail will include full e-mail search
for every e-mail a subscriber ever sent or received using keywords or
advanced search features. The offering also comes with 1,000 megabytes (1
gigabyte) of free storage — more than 100 times what Yahoo! and Hotmail
offer in their free versions.

The company also said Gmail will eliminate the need to file messages into
folders because each e-mail will be automatically organized into what the
company calls “meaningful conversations” that show messages in the context
of all the replies sent in response to them. And of course Google said it
will address the spam issue through vigorous filtering methods.

Not to be confused with the GNOME mail client project that uses SQL-based
vfolders, Gmail will compete similar free offerings from Yahoo!
and MSN , which runs the popular
Hotmail service.

According Google founder Larry Page, the inspiration for Gmail came along
because he and Google co-founder and president of technology, Sergey Brin
realized search is number two online activity and checking e-mail is number
one. The corporate legend goes that a Google user complained about the poor
quality of existing e-mail services.

“She kvetched about spending all her time filing messages or trying to
find them,” Page said in a statement. “And when she’s not doing that, she
has to delete e-mail like crazy to stay under the obligatory four megabyte
limit. So she asked, ‘Can’t you people fix this?'”

The company said Gmail is built on the premise that users should never
have to file or delete a message, or struggle to find an e-mail they’ve sent
or received. The problem was handed over to an unidentified Google engineer
who worked on it in his off time. Google employees are encouraged
spend a day a week on projects that interest them.

Brin admitted that “developing Gmail was
a bit more complicated than we anticipated,” but the company is “pleased to
be able to offer it.” No formal release date has been announced.

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