Once upon a time, someone thought to serve email through a web-based interface for easy access anywhere (that saved users the process of setting up an email client). HoTMaiL was one of the first of course, but is now owned by Microsoft. The number of services like these exploded and just as quickly collapsed (or got bought up like Rocketmail).
The first to respond was Spymac, formerly an Apple rumors site, it now aims to provide web services. They responded with 1 GB free web email that also could be accessed via POP (which the free versions of other services don’t offer). They now also offer a paid version of their email service, called MailPro. Not only is your service boosted to 3 GB, but it also sports IMAP access, which is essential for keeping all your mail on their servers. [1 GB web/POP service: free] [3 GB web/POP/IMAP service: $18.99/year]
The most notable big name in free email to respond was Yahoo!. They boosted the formerly 4 MB (or 6 MB if you had been with them long enough) to 100 MB for free members. They also now offer 2 GB paid service that also brings POP access. [100 MB web service: free] [2 GB web/POP service: $19.99/year]
Microsoft is taking a long time to prepare its new service, promising its availability “in fall”. Current service is a diminutive 2 MB, web access only. To add insult to injury, mail marked as spam still counts toward your quota.
GMail brings 1 GB free web mail service to its users. Not only is it offering large storage for free, but a new way to think about email. Instead of filing mail into folders, you can label mail in various ways. This allows for flexible searching without stringent filing. You search your mail with Google’s search technology, making for fast, accurate searches. No paid plans are offered as yet.
With all these options, no one has an excuse to not have an email address anymore. The main problem is now, which one to use?