Google has just announced that it’s no longer accepting new signups for the free edition of Google Apps (sometimes referred to as Standard edition). For those who’re unaware, Google Apps is a service that lets users customize several Google products (such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Contacts, Google Contacts, Google Groups, Goole Analytics - just to name a few) under a custom domain name. The free version is super popular among small businesses, schools, and individuals; it supports 10 accounts, and an email inbox size of 10GB per account. Luckily, if you’re already using the free version, today’s announcement has no impact on you.
Besides the free version, there’s a paid Business version (pricing can be found here), as well as Nonprofits, Education, and Government versions of Google Apps. For existing free Nonprofit and Education accounts, you can continue to use the service for free. However, due to the removal of the free edition, the processes for new Nonprofit and Education signups have changed (you can read about them here and here). And for those who have upgraded to the Business edition after December 6, 2012, and want to downgrade to the free edition, you’ve until January 9, 2013 to do so.
In a nutshell, starting today, there will only be one Google Apps for Business, and companies of all sizes will have to sign up for this version. Features for the Business version include “24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime”. Pricing is still US$50 per user, per year.
For individuals who want to use Gmail and Google Drive, Google recommends creating a free personal Google Account.