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Starting today, Google will invite 100,000 users to beta-test its much-buzzed Wave, a communication and collaboration platform combining elements of email, chat, social networking, and wiki. Receiving invitations will be developers, people who did earlier testing, and a few business users of Google Apps, wrote Lars Rasmussen and Stephanie Hannon yesterday in a joint post on Google's site.

Lars Rasmussen and his brother Jen lead the Sydney-based team developing Google Wave, and Stephanie Hannon is Wave product manager. Although no date has been set for its general release, Rasmussen and Hannon write that it will be publicly available "later this year."

Since its unveiling at the Google I/O developer conference in May—see the presentation here—Wave has generated intense interest, writes Miguel Helft in The New York Times' Bits blog. Calling Google Wave "an attempt to re-engineer Internet communication," CNET's Tom Krazit reports that Google has already received requests from more than 1 million people to beta-test it.

The Wave Experience

Wave's aim is to make online communication more richly collaborative, multidimensional, efficient, and instantaneous. In Wave, groups of users share an online desktop on which they "can exchange messages, share and edit documents, drag and drop widgets and play games," writes Helft. Here's a screenshot from the Google Wave site:

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