I’ve owned the domain “webbsite.us” for a couple of years. I never found anything useful to do with it, as most of what I do is on other people’s sites. I got it originally to create a family Web site for reunion pics, news of new kids, marriages, divorces, etc., but my family members are such duds when it comes to things like that, they wouldn’t even send stuff to me to get it posted, let alone bother to do it themselves.
I never had the heart to un-register it, though, because it is a super-cool domain for someone named Webb. (I was amazed to find it available originally, and you never saw someone whip out a credit card that quickly. GoDaddy’s servers were almost shut down by the photonic shock wave.)
When I was invited to be a beta tester for Google Apps for Your Domain (GAYD), I immediately thought of webbsite.us.
Among other things, Google lets you have 25 email (actually Gmail) addresses with your domain name, so I can be “abercrombie at webbsite.us” if I like. (Don’t worry… I’m not.) I figured that, if nothing else, the daughters, nieces, and nephews would get a kick out of a personalized address.
Right now, GAYD bundles a Google Page Creator site for the domain (100 MB limit), a Google Calendar site for each user, the aforementioned 25 Gmail addresses, and a chat system using Google Talk that I haven’t yet checked out. The Google Pages site is right off the rack, but can be tweaked enough to give it some personality.
The other services are straight Google, although you have the option of replacing the Google logo with a photo of your choice. Since my family helped found the commercial Caladium farming industry in Florida, I chose a little pic of some Caladium leaves. Apart from that, the GUIs are identical to the other Google pages. In fact, my webbsite.net addresses work perfectly with Firefox’s Gmail Manager extension. (A handy difference: I can keep a Gmail account and a webbsite account open simultaneously, and switch back and forth without logging in and out.)
You can see the main page (what there is of it so far) at webbsite.us.
Google Apps for Your Domain is a great beginning site for a small business that doesn’t need fancy formatting, for schools, and similar undemanding purposes. It’s adequate for basic business info, restaurant menus (uploaded as images), coupons, school projects and so forth. No doubt it will soon be combined with Writely, and perhaps some of Google’s other new Web-based services. Unlike most Google betas, it has well written, comprehensive help files.
It is equally likely that GAYD will be one of Google’s early pay services, the first of which (Picasa Web) was launched with little fanfare a few months ago. It makes no bones about that in fact, guaranteeing as part of the beta agreement that a basic free service will always be available to those participating in the beta testing. GAYD is obvious competition for Microsoft’s Windows Live and similar offerings from other sources that will be along in the very near future, and it clearly intends to charge for advanced versions.
Windows Live is also available to small users for free at this time, but it requires you to use Internet Explorer. Don’t expect to see it reviewed here. How you can call an application Web-based when it requires a specific browser is quite beyond me.
I understand that there is a waiting list for GAYD participation, but it’s not supposed to be too long. There does not seem to be an invitation system al la Gmail and Writely, except for the domain-based Gmail addresses. Considering the market it’s aiming for – I wouldn’t expect that to change. If you’re interested in getting in on the beta, you can apply here. You will need a domain of your own, available at any number of sellers on the Web. Google does not provide them.