sign up for Gmail (aka Google Mail) without an invite from an existing user (Google have even produced a Youtube video extolling the features of Gmail though I find reading the features Webpage quicker myself!). What a nice Valentine's Day present from Google. However, Gmail still remains in beta.
Google have certainly been busy with Gmail, having recently introduced:
- integration of Gmail with Google's D&S or Docs & Spreadsheets, so that whenever you receive a spreadsheet or a document attached to your Gmail, a new link next to the "Download" link saying "Open as a Google document" lets you automatically import the attachment into Docs & Spreadsheets and add it to your personal document list where you can make changes, invite collaborators and search for it later; and
- (on a gradual rollout basis) Gmail Fetcher, which allow retrieval of mail from up to 5 other non-Gmail accounts (e.g. with your ISP), as long as they support POP access. And you can even send email with a From from those other accounts too. This is great as you can access all your email in one place and if you change ISPs you can just add the account for your new ISP in Gmail.
Now that's not obvious. If after you've created your new free Gmail account you go to your "all my services" link at the top of the page (or "My Account"), you won't be able to see Page Creator anywhere (at least, not at the moment). Not even if you click "More" under "Try something new" - Pages just isn't visible as an option on the "More Google Products" page. Possibly because it seems they're still limiting new sign ups for Page Creator, and have a waiting list!
However, if you sign up for Gmail, then sign in to Gmail and, while leaving yourself logged in, go to http://pages.google.com/, it seems you'll be able to sign in to Google Pages there with the same user/password, tick to accept the terms, and then there you are, you've got yourself a Page Creator account. Next time you go to Google's "all my services" or "My Account", you'll see Page Creator there listed under "My Services".
While I think Page Creator is no great shakes as a Webpage creator or editor (not even for beginners - I'd suggest NVU instead, to install on your computer; and I find the lack of features and control for more experienced users frustrating), they do currently let you upload your own HTML and certain other (limited) types of files there. So it's free webspace - web hosting and file hosting of sorts. And you can even have several different URLs for your webpages. Plus, Page Creator is gradually improving over time - my initial review still mostly holds true, but at least they've fixed some of the issues like not being able to get at the Edit HTML link.
I have a feeling this is an unintended loophole and that Google will close it at some point, so that soon having a Gmail account won't automatically let you get yourself a Page Creator account and free Google webspace. But I hope they at least will let people who've signed up in the meantime keep their Page Creator accounts and webspace!