Starting today, Google will offer Google Apps for Your Domain, a free package of programs for businesses, universities and other organizations.

Workers will be able to send e-mail with Gmail, Google's two-year-old Web-based mail service, but messages will carry their company's domain name. The package also includes Google's online calendar, instant-messaging service, and Page Creator, a Web page builder.

Information technology administrators can make some customizations. "But really, the applications are exactly what you'd experience as a consumer if you use them," said Dave Girouard, VP and general manager of Google Enterprise, a division of Google Inc.

The free edition of Apps for Your Domain is, like Google's main site, supported with ads. By the end of the year, the company also plans to launch a paid version that will offer more storage, some degree of support, and likely, no ads. A price for this edition hasn't been set.

Providing e-mail and other applications for businesses moves Google closer into what has traditionally been turf occupied by Microsoft Corp. Earlier this year, Google released a program that builds simple Excel-type spreadsheets but lets users access them on the Web.

Get the full story at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer