Google announced on Wednesday that from now on it opens up Gmail, its free e-mail service, to everyone worldwide, dropping the invitation-only restriction.
Google began public testing of Gmail on April 1, 2004. Initially, Gmail was an exclusive club — an invitation from another Gmail user was required. In August 2005, Google opened Gmail up to those willing to submit a mobile phone number as a means of identity verification and as a way to limit the number of accounts spammers might be able to abuse.
Although the company has been steadily integrating new features, but the mail service is still labeled a beta release. As of Wednesday, Gmail offered users about 2.8 GB of storage space for e- mail, one of the more generous limits for free services. Google claims to have “tens of millions” of Gmail users, however significantly fewer than the free e-mail services offered by Microsoft and Yahoo.