I was able to signup for Google's new email service today, GMail. They provide you with a gigabyte of email storage for free; there are some well-placed Google-style ads along the side of some of the screens but nothing too intrusive.

I'm not sure if I like the interface yet; there are only a few controls but it seems a bit cluttered. It might be that I need to get used to the new model that Google wants us to get used to: never delete an email.

With a gigabyte of storage that isn't hard. Gmail doesn't really have folders like most other mail clients. You can assign labels to certain messages, "star" important messages, report a message as spam, and delete it. "Archiving" a message simply removes it from the inbox, but it remains available for search. Thats basically all of the message-related functions you need to worry about. Messages are presented in a rather cool thread-like format, similar to many forum and message board sites. Obviously the strength here is the searching capabilities; you can easily search just text, from and to, subject, date range, or label.

Gmail worked well in IE as well as Firefox, I haven't yet tried it on Safari but I suspect it will work. I haven't finished digging through all of the options; there are few areas that are a bit raw; there doesn't seem to be a way to send HTML formatted email, and it took several hours for an outbound message to be sent. While spam filtering is offered, my Oddpost and DynDNS spam filters filtered out way more spam than GMail did. You can't change the "From" address in outgoing messages, so all of your mail has to come "", nor is there external mailbox access via POP3 or IMAP. GMail is still beta, so I'm certain that Google will tie up these loose ends and add a lot more features down the road. I'm glad I'm able to play with it; it looks like it will become a really cool product.