back to article Google kills free version of Apps for business

Google has killed off the free version of its Apps for business product. Google Apps offers gmail, Google Drive and a calendaring service, plus Google’s in-browser word processor, spreadsheet and presentation graphics app. All the apps work in a browser. At launch, the service was free to organisations with fewer than 20 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still good value

    for what it provides, provided you are OK with their Privacy Policy:

    1. LarsG

      With advertising down

      They have to find a way to make some more money.

      It is business after all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: With advertising down

        "They have to find a way to make some more money."

        Isn't getting your information and using it for ad targeting throughout the web enough these days?

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: Still good value

      Yeah, if you don't have fundamental issues with cloud based services and Google, it's an incredible product to get for free, Probably their problem is that the free version is so good, most see no need to pay for Premium.

  2. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    Tried both; chose Google Apps. Haven't been disappointed.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Existing customers will still enjoy free access to the suite and individuals can still sign up for free accounts."

    Thumbs up there, I was expecting "you have 1 year to make arrangements or cough up".

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They'll say that next year. Google tries to space out such announcements, it's PR 101. Notice they don't say "enjoy free access forever."

      Better start planning.

      1. Ignition

        The difficulty with Google shutting down all free Google Apps accounts is that they'll be shutting down a load of individual Google Accounts as well. I use Google Apps as my mail email provider, but my associated Google Account is also tied to YouTube, Picasa, and other services, but critically to the Android Market as well. If they shut the free accounts down with no workable alternative, they'll effectively be blocking paying customers' access to their purchases. I *hope* that would be a step too far for Google.

        I understand why they have done it and agree that it doesn't really feel like a "customer friendly" move. However, as long as they commit to supporting existing accounts, I really can't complain.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          I thought the point was they weren't shutting down any existing accounts.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Try Zoho instead (although every product seems to have its own pricing policy, which is confusing).

  5. jb99


    I use this with my own domain for gmail etc.

    Although it's still free for existing "customers" I can see this as a warning it might not be.

    Time to reconsider what I use.

    And I do mean reconsider, not that I'll necessarily change as it might still be decent value even if it costs some money.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      If you only use it for your e-mail, supports free custom e-mail domains with up to 500 users and no storage limitations.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not so good for Charities

    Love Google Apps, but no free version for UK Charities or an answer if there will ever be after people have been asking for 3 years+

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not so good for Charities

      If some UK charities can afford to pay their directors six-figure salaries with, rarely necessary, jaunts all over the world and expensive vehicles, why should companies be made to give them free services and products?

      Do charities insist that their lunch is free, that they don't pay heating bills etc?

      There are free alternatives that any charity can easily use if they wish.

      Oh and by the way - I work for a charity that pays no wages at all, costs me about £2000 a year to belong to, is deemed essential by the government but still has to pay the government a large amount of money every year in taxes and duty.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not so good for Charities

        Here, here. But before they start to cut costs, let me finish the project I'm working on at the moment.

        Large charities seem to behave as though though they're there just to keep their staff in work, and not worry about their original intent. They raise money from the public, spend it on lobbying the government so that they get even more money from the tax payer.

        Give money to small charities where possible. Only large charity that isn't in cahoots with the government appears to be the RNLI.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not so good for Charities

          you seem to suggest that spending money on lobbying the government is wasted when it is from a charity.

          I don't agree.

          For example, imagine a charity which wants to improve access to public space for wheelchair users by getting rid of steps and putting in ramps (its a simplistic example, but stay with me). there are a few ways they can do this, including:

          1) spend money taking out steps which prevent access to public spaces and build ramps in their place

          2) lobby the government / council / whoever so that in the future, people put in ramps in the first place.

          Both of these may achieve your aim. But can you seriously say that option 2 is a waste of money? sure, building your own ramps might be cheaper and easier to start with, but in the long run you need to change minds to achieve large scale change.

        2. David Neil

          Re: Not so good for Charities

          If you run a charity that cannot run without hand outs from the state I would suggest that a) you need to re-evaluate the operating model and b) you are essentially no more than an arms length offshoot of the state.

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          2. This post has been deleted by its author

          3. jaduncan

            Re: Not so good for Charities

            @David Neil You seem to be responding to a comment the most recent AC didn't make. AC is stating that spending money on advocacy is not wasting money. I'm not sure, to pick a random example, that Liberty or the ACLU are loved by the state. If you want to attempt to guarantee civil liberties, it's probably best to talk to the people with legislative power a lot.

  7. dotdan

    I had a few accounts with Google Apps, the oldest has 50 free users, the recent ones 10. I Google Apps Business for my own account, worth it for the Android remote wipe alone.

    I can understand clubs and organisations like residents' associations not being happy to have missed the boat if they'd not already signed up, but without any free users it's still a bargain at £2.75/mth/user.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems pretty fair to me...

    Google’s solution is to make all new business customers for Apps pay. Existing customers will still enjoy free access to the suite and individuals can still sign up for free accounts.

    I have a single user Google Apps account to handle my domain MX records email, and it simply forwards to my main regular gmail account...

  9. JDX Gold badge

    5 years 10 months

    In the IT world, "soon" often lasts far less than 5 years. No need for the sarcasm El Reg!

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: 5 years 10 months

      On theother hand, "forgetting their roots" is bad, whenever. If that's what they've done - I wouldn't definitely say that.

    2. Another Justin

      Re: 5 years 10 months

      If Google said "We will soon be implementing feature X", I'd hope that by "soon" that they meant less than 5 years from now.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Classic bait and switch.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Classic bait and switch.

      How is continuing a free product "bait and switch"? <facepalm>

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't trust Google, simple as that. It's all about the money despite their cosy open source appearance.

  12. Sordid Details

    I don't see what the problem is

    Why do so many people assume that Google are obligated to give away all of their services for free, and that if they charge for them then somehow it makes them into an evil money-grabbing empire?

    Ok, so maybe they *are* an evil money-grabbing empire, but as an existing Google Apps user I wouldn't complain too loudly if they charged me for the service. It's a damned good service and I am astonished that it has been free for as long as it has.

    Remember, you get what you pay for. At least if you pay for the product then you have some rights and a commercial relationship with Google. As the saying goes, if you're not paying then *you're* the product. My expectation as a paying customer would be that I would be released from some of Google's more overt advertising.

  13. HandleOfGod

    What exactly is this Google Apps thing? I have Google Drive free with my Gmail account which includes the various spreadsheet, wordprocessor functions etc and I actively make use of them. There are some functionality shortcomings, especially with the formatting in spreadsheets, but by and large it's pretty good. And it's free - so I can hardly complain.

    If I try to investigate GoogleApps the only option I get is to sign up for a free trial and pay $3 a month after the trial ends, yet the screen shots look rather like the very same options I already get free with Gmail. Am I missing something here?

    1. dotdan

      It's essentialy the same as that but you can log in with an email address on your own domain name instead of a address, and for an account with multiple people an administrator can reset passwords and restrict services (like stop you using YouTube or Google+ with your work email address) etc. Obviously more to it besides the free stuff but that's what it means to the small users.

  14. b166er

    'individuals can still sign up for free accounts'

    Can I have some clarification as to what that means?

    1. b166er

      While the downvotes are no doubt helpful (on another planet), I really fail to (on this planet) understand why.

      I simply want clarification as to whether there is a free equivalent to Google Apps for individuals.

      I wasn't aware of such a thing and have used the Google Apps for Business version until now for my private domains. If there is a free version for individuals then perhaps that is what I can use from now on.

      An explanation of either would interest me, kthx.

      1. dotdan

        I don't think that they mean that there is a "free Google Apps for individuals" - the announcement at says "Individuals wishing to use Google’s web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account" which links to literally a Google Account (not Apps) creation page only.

        1. b166er

          Thanks, the article could have been clearer.

  15. uglybunz

    So non-US charities are stuffed then?

    Google has always used the existence of its free service to justify its non-availability of charitable support schemes for non-American charities. "They can use the free service".

    So now I guess that they will have to introduce a global charitable support program? Or just be evil?

  16. rvt

    I can't believe people really use it.

    I have seen some glimpses of google apps and that's like if you are thrown away 10 years or more in terms of functionality.

    besides, as a european, according to the patriot act the US gov is allowed to snop into your documents without notification. That's just terrible.

    no thank you Google, I will stay with my desktop and my local drives.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "in-browser [apps] ... work in a browser"

    Who would have guessed?

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Office 365 isn't free but....

    Its also fair to say that when you have a mere Microsoft ID (former hotmail / msn id) then you also get free access to their office web applications. Which include Word, Excel and OneNote. Also keep in mind that MS doesn't quite care if you represent an individual or a business.

    Although I have no idea how these MS apps. fare in comparison to the Google variants I do think MS has one major advantage; the rather seemingless integration with Office 2010. I can open a Word document using the web apps. and if I want to can open Word (desktop version) straight from within the web app.

    Just like I can save documents straight to my online storage (SkyDrive) from within my desktop applications.

    Quite frankly I think this should be able to suit any small sized company. Although 365 provides more integration for multiple users, the applications themselves don't differ from the free variants. Either that or I totally missed it. The only thing you don't get for free is Outlook as a web app. Well, when compared to the desktop version its quite lacking anyway, so IMO no real loss there either.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google apps for business sucks - we tried it and they scared us off before the trial ended

    We asked for some support in some setup issues. We were clear it was for a business account and we were ready to purchase. The support was so bad, we stopped there and then given that any company who cannot support you in your free trial does not deserve your business.

    Now we use Rackspace as our company's email provider, never looked back and never been patronised by a google rep.

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