Recently I've been selected to participate on quite a few of the google 'beta' projects, such as analytics, Company based e-mail, and their google page maker.

First off, let me just say that all of the google projects are wonderful. I've been playing with the google analystics recently and the improvements over it's predecesor (urchin) are just outstanding. (Note: I never got to try Urchin 6 'On-Demand', so I may be overstating this comment).

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the google page maker, but once again, google has overshot my expectations. Personally after using this product though it's really simple web interface, I think many people would never use anything else. I showed this feature to my wife, and even she could use it without any issues. She is not a computer guru, but she does have more than basic knowledge of applications such as microsoft office etc. After showing this to a few of my friends, I have come to the conclusion that even someone with very basic computer knowledge can put a decent looking web page together using this tool.

Last but not least, my IT Consulting company recently got selected to beta for the 'google hosted webmail'. Imagine you logging into gmail, except everything that currently says google, is replaced with your company logo, or your domain name. It has all the same wonderful features of gmail (large storage space, spam filtering, google chat login), but with your domain name. The most interesting feature I found about this project, is that it allowed me to login to google chat using my own domain name! The only downside, is I'm not able to transfer all my messages from my gmail account to my new google hosted mail account, but other than that this project is amazing.

Google makes some nice tools. How'd you get involved in the beta program?

I was just really lucky, I was part of a blogging site that google took over, and sent out gmail invites (I was first to get one of those), and since then, they have been sending me e-mails regarding being involved in many of their beta's.

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