Setting Up a Google+less GMail Account
As said a few days ago, if I was able to create a gmail account without signing up for Google+, too, I would post how I did it. Chrome is my default browser, and all below was done with it.
SETTING UP A GOOGLE+LESS GMAIL ACCOUNT
1. Go to 'mail.google.com'
2. Click on "Create an Account."
3. Fill out the form.
You don't have to enter a phone number. Just enter the security code.
4. Once you've completed the sign up page, click "Next". You'll be taken to the Profile page.
5. Don't enter anything. Just quit that page.
(To be safe, I quit the whole browser as well.)
6. Go to 'mail.google.com' again.
I was expecting to get the login page, but instead I was taken directly to my new gmail account. Don't know why.
7. Log out of 'Hangouts.' Left middle of page.
This isn't necessary, but I have no use for this gmail "feature."
8. Configure your new Google+less gmail account.
9. Log out.
Unfortunately, when you log out Google sets the login page with your new email address, but without the password. I didn't want that. As I use Chrome, I went to Tools->Clear Browsing Data, unticked everything except "Cookies ..." and "Autofill ..." and cleared everything set for the "Past Hour" option. Google Mail login is now clear.
FWIW, as long as you use a browser to access the account, you're going to be nagged or possibly tricked to activate Google+. Here's a link to quit Google+ without loosing your gmail account. It is the most recent set of instructions I could find.
Posted from my new gmail account.