Rory Cellan-Jones talks to the developers of Google's 'next-generation' messenger service
Google Wave, which combines e-mail, instant messaging and wiki-style editing will go on public trial today.
The search giant hopes the tool, described as "how e-mail would look if it were invented today", will transform how people communicate online.
It will be open to 100,000 invitees from 1600BST, each of whom can nominate five further people to "join the Wave".
The tool is also open source, meaning third party developers can use the code to build new applications.
The developer behind Wave described it as "a communication and collaboration tool".
"It struck us that e-mail is still the main communication tool on the web, which seemed remarkable given that it is 20-year-old technology," said Lars Rasmussen, who, alongside his brother Jens, was the brains behind Google Maps.
In designing Wave, the brothers took as a starting point the idea of "a conversation sitting in a cloud".
"We found we could build a flexible tool with a surprising amount of functionality," Mr Rasmussen told BBC News.
Google Wave combines IM, e-mail and social networking features
Such functions includes real-time typing.
This means people can see a comment being written character by character and can formulate their answer to a question before a fellow 'Waver' has even finished asking it.
Mr Rasmussen acknowledges that this feature could be annoying, but thinks it is also a great time-saver.
For those unsure whether they want all their Wave friends to see exactly what they are writing, when they are writing it, the developers are working on a draft mode which will allow the real-time aspect to be switched off .
Unlike traditional instant messenger (IM) conversations continue even once everyone has logged out. This means that those invited to a Wave conversation but not currently online, can read the message strand in full at a later date.
More radical is the inclusion of wiki-style editing tools.
All messages can be edited at any point by members of the conversation and a Playback facility allows everyone to see exactly who has edited what and at what time.
I have been accused of being pathologically optimistic about it but I can't see why people wouldn't want it
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