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Wave gravy splashes onto Google Apps

Email-IM crossbreed for all

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Google I/O Mountain View has rolled Google Wave, its new-age online collaboration and communication tool, into its Google Apps suite of web-based business applications.

Yes, that means the tool is now available to world+dog.

This morning, at Google's annual developer conference, Wave daddy Lars Rasmussen - part of the brother team also famous for building Google Maps - announced that the application is no longer invitation-only. Anyone can try it here.

Unveiled to a standing developer ovation at last year's Google I/O, Wave is a web platform that crossbreeds email with IM and document sharing, with a particular talent for (near) real-time interaction. Hoping to promote its use across the net, Google is open sourcing the platform's underlying protocol and the "lion's share" of its client and server code.

In a way, the application duplicates the document editing and sharing of Google Docs and the email and chat of Gmail, but Google Wave is a wholly different animal - for better or for worse. It's an effort to remake web communication from the ground up.

All three of these tools are now part of Google Apps. This means that Google Apps admins have the option of adding Wave as a "Labs" feature for their domains.

Recently, Google announced that it will soon allow businesses, government agencies, schools, and other organizations to use any Google service from their Google Apps accounts. The web giant offers a free Google Apps Standard Edition, a for-pay Premier Edition that includes added storage as well as service and support, and a free Education Edition for schools.

In the fall, the company will move all versions to a new infrastructure that allows the use of additional services, but customers can make the switch on their own "during the summer." To start, services outside the current "core suite" will not be covered by the Google Apps support and service level agreement, but Google says it will "evaluate future support options." ®

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