Google has begun testing a free webmail service named GMail. Here’s a press release from Google about the new service. Google intends to offer each user essentially unlimited storage of e-mail – 1 gigabyte per user, miles ahead of the paltry 2Mb or 4Mb offered by Hotmail and Yahoo Mail.

“Unlike other free webmail services, Gmail is built on the idea that users should never have to file or delete a message, or struggle to find an email they’ve sent or received. Key features of Gmail include:

Search: Built on Google search technology, Gmail enables people to quickly search every email they’ve ever sent or received. Using keywords or advanced search features, Gmail users can find what they need, when they need it.

Storage: Google believes people should be able to hold onto their mail forever. That’s why Gmail comes with 1,000 megabytes (1 gigabyte) of free storage ? more than 100 times what most other free webmail services offer.

Speed: Gmail makes using email faster and more efficient by eliminating the need to file messages into folders, and by automatically organizing individual emails into meaningful “conversations” that show messages in the context of all the replies sent in response to them.”

Here’s a page with additional information.

Google has a history of April Fool’s tricks (their Pigeon Rank page is a classic), and there was speculation early today that GMail was an elaborate hoax. But Google spokespeople have responded that the service is for real and could be rolled out to everyone within a few weeks.