Google Sites Now Open to the Masses
Google Sites, the group Website tool that was originally available only to "companies and organizations that wanted to use the service on their own domains," can now be utilized by even non-business users--and you don't even need to host it on your own domain anymore:
"Now we've made it easy for anyone to set up a website to share all types of information -- team projects, company intranets, community groups, classrooms, clubs, family updates, you name it -- in one place, for a few people, a group or the world. You can securely host your own website at http://sites.google.com/[your-website] and add as many pages as you like for free."
"Getting started with Google Sites is easy. You can create different types of pages from scratch with the click of a button, and you can embed documents, calendars, photos, videos and gadgets directly into those pages. Similar to Google Docs, built-in editing tools allow for popular text and formatting changes to be made in a straightforward, WYSIWYG manner. Once your site is up and running, inviting people to edit or view your content is as simple as entering in their email address (of course, you can change access levels at any time). And you (or anyone who has editing privileges) can add or edit information whenever you'd like."
Google Sites is free and includes 100MB of Web storage, 6.75GB of e-mail storage, and access to the full suite of Google Applications: Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. A Premier Edition of Google Sites is available for $50 per user account per year, and includes 10GB+ of Web storage, 25GB of e-mail storage per account, the option to opt out of text-based adds alongside e-mail, conference room scheduling, and 24/7 support.
There are no shortage of companies offering free Website hosting, such as bigwigs like Yahoo's GeoCities and smaller shops like x10Hosting. But Google's ability to integrate free Web hosting and Web-based applications is a compelling mix. Zoho comes close with its similar offerings, and Microsoft's own Office Live Workspace provides an online shared workspace, but it requires having Microsoft Office installed on your local machine for full functionality.