Google's much-talked about free e-mail service, Gmail, will apparently be accepting more users soon. Launched in 2004, the Gmail service gained instant popularity among geeks because it offers an unprecedented amount of free storage and displays ads based on the content of the correspondence.

Last week Google removed the invitation-only restrictions on Gmail in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Brazil. Google opened up the service last year in several other parts of the world, including Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and Egypt. Invitations are still required in North America, Asia and most parts of the South America, but Google spokeswoman Courtney Hohne told the media the restrictions will be lifted "very soon." Also, if you have a friend with Gmail they can send you in invitation to join (each user gets 100 invites) and anyone willing to provide Google with their cellphone number can also request an invitation.

Gmail initially offered 1 gigabyte of free storage per account — 250 to 500 times more than the leading e-mail services offered by Yahoo and Microsoft. Now Gmail offers at least 2.6 gigabytes of free storage, with more space being added almost monthly.