Google has launched Google Apps for Your Domain, a suite of hosted collaboration applications for small to medium-size businesses, universities, groups and affinity organizations, with plans to expand to larger companies by year\u2019s end.Organizations will be able to sign up for the beta version of the free browser-based, hosted-application service\u00a0that Google expects will be up and running when Monday dawns in the United States. The service for larger companies won\u2019t be free, with details regarding what it will entail and the pricing structure to be announced when the rollout date is set.The free offering will include Gmail and Google\u2019s Calendar, Talk and Page Creator applications, all of which have been rolled out in recent months or which the company has been integrating with each other this year. More applications will be added over time, said Matthew Glotzbach, head of products for Google\u2019s enterprise division. He wouldn\u2019t elaborate on what those applications might be, but Google\u2019s online word processor and spreadsheet are likely targets to become part of the hosted collaboration suite. Google isn\u2019t publicly talking about what it sees as the competition either, but the suite seems squarely aimed at, for instance, IBM\u2019s Notes collaboration software."We\u2019re trying to take a new look at what it means to collaborate," said Rajen Sheth, product manager for Google Apps for Your Domain. "There are obvious competitors out there, but I think people will see this as a fresh look." That look, while hosted by Google, will be accessed at the Internet domains of businesses, universities and organizations that sign up for it. All of the suite applications will have a user interface based on Ajax and be branded for individual organizations, with the same logos and color schemes used at the domain. While the e-mail will be Gmail, it will remain a domain address.The intent is to allow companies and organizations access to collaboration applications even if they can\u2019t afford internal IT support or don\u2019t want to devote IT resources to those tasks, with the aim of "really driving down the cost and the maintenance," Glotzbach said.The premium version will offer more support, as well as service-level agreements and what he described as "richer integration" of applications with the domain. "We\u2019re very serious about this space," he said.Ever since the launch of Gmail, Google has collected feedback from small to medium-size businesses and universities in particular regarding that application, and it has also been beta testing Gmail for Your Domain for a while. Google Apps for Your Domain is an extension of that, Glotzbach said.-Nancy Weil, IDG News Service (Boston Bureau)Related Link:\n\nBrazil Threatens to Shut Down Google.brCheck out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.