Google's Google Wave collaboration tool is now available to anyone who wants to try it out.
The announcement should dispel speculation that Google Wave, a collaboration and communication tool which generated a lot of hype when it was unveiled last year, would never be released widely. Some analysts suggested the service would be integrated into other Google online products, rather than be launched in its own right.
Described as a Swiss Army knife of services, Google Wave combines threaded email conversations and instant messaging with rich content such as Google maps, interactive polling, videos and more. For creatives, it offers a way to communicate with colleagues and clients in a way that's more flexible than email. For example, it's easy to add extra people to a 'Wave' thread, so they can catch up on a conversation quicker.
But initial excitement over the product's launch a year ago began to fade when Google strictly limited the closed beta test, and those who were on it struggled to explain the benefit of the tool. Meanwhile, many testers began to wonder whether Wave would remain a standalone product, arguing that it could potentially cannibalise usage for existing Google products, such as Gmail and Google Docs.
That scenario seems far away now Google has released Wave to all, although the search engine giant still says the product isn't final. Like many of the company's products, Google Wave still has a Labs label on it.
In addition to individuals, businesses that use the Google Apps hosted collaboration and communication suite can now turn Wave on for users in their domains, Google said.