Google email service no joke

Google's newly announced free email service is not a hoax the company says.

Forbes.com reports Google's vice president of products Jonathan Rosenberg as saying the new service - which will let users keep about 1GB of messages - is for real, despite speculation it was an April Fool's Day joke. He did concede that a job ad link for staff at a planned lunar facility was a joke however.

The free email service, called Gmail, will let each user hold on to about 500,000 pages of email and search through those messages using the familiar Google search interface, the company said in a statement. They will also be able to organise their messages in "conversations" that group a message together with all replies to it, much like internet newsgroups organise messages into threads, says Wayne Rosing, vice president of engineering at Google, in Mountain View, California.

A small number of Google employees have been testing the service for about a year, Rosing says. This week other Google employees will be invited to participate and to invite some of their friends and relatives. The service should be generally available within "weeks or months," he says.

Also starting this week, the public will be able to learn more about Gmail here, Rosing says.

One way Google will pay for the provisioning of that 1GB of storage per user will be by selling advertisements that will appear next to email messages and be keyed to the content of each message, Rosing says.

Gmail will have a built-in spam filter and a feature that lets customers report spam to help Google fine-tune the filter, says spokeswoman Eileen Rodriguez. Other antispam technologies will be added over time, she says.

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