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Last Updated: Friday, 18 February, 2005, 15:35 GMT
Google Gmail launch edges closer
Gmail logo from Google website www.gmail.com
Google has yet to say when Gmail will be launched
Google has edged closer to launching its new Gmail service.

The company has invited the people who registered an interest in Gmail, which is still under development, to open a free e-mail account.

Previously, it had kept a tighter rein on the number of users given access, limiting to 50 the number of people that existing customers could invite.

Google was reluctant to talk about when it would launch Gmail, saying that it was in the development "beta" stage.

A bit longer

"We are excited to send invitations to those who supported us during the launch," Google said in a statement. "This round of invitations does not mean we're out of beta or offering an open subscription to the world."

Web mail storage
Gmail: 1,000MB
Hotmail: 250MB
Yahoo! Mail: 250 MB
AOL Mail on the Web: 100MB
Hotmail Plus: 2000MB(14.99)
Yahoo! Premium: 2000MB( 11.99)

"We still have no details to share on when we will take Gmail out of beta."

The launch of Gmail has been eagerly anticipated by industry observers and consumers and it has already had an impact on other freemail companies.

Google will offer users 1,000 megabytes (MB) of storage, much more than rivals such as Hotmail, Yahoo!, and AOL Mail, many of whom have been quickly increasing what they offer in response.

Gmail also offers a new way of searching a user's library of e-mails, claiming it has designed the service to make it easier to hunt out unstructured, unfiled information.

It also matches advertisments with potential customers by searching the users' e-mails for keywords.

As a result, Yahoo! Mail says it has also been developing its e-mail search function.

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