As we reported back in July this year, that Google is ending the free version of its Google Apps package, today, the company made it official stating, "Starting today, we are no longer accepting new signups for the free version of Google Apps."
"The option to switch to this version will no longer be available in 30 days," google added.
However, those who have already signed and using free Google Apps can continue do so. And as before, Google Apps for Education will be available as a free service for schools and universities.
Google Apps which was started back in 2006 with the simple idea that Gmail could help businesses and schools work better together without the hassles of managing software and servers. Today, has millions of businesses and is available in the three versions for governments, universities and schools.
Google's explanation for dropping the free Google Apps for small organizations is rather vague:
"When we launched the premium business version we kept our free, basic version as well. Both businesses and individuals signed up for this version, but time has shown that in practice, the experience isn't quite right for either group. Businesses quickly outgrow the basic version and want things like 24/7 customer support and larger inboxes. Similarly, consumers often have to wait to get new features while we make them business-ready," the company wrote.
Apparently, there's a workaround that lets you sign up for a free version of Google Apps, but only for a single account. "If you create a new Apps account going through the App Engine Admin Console you'll still be able to create a Standard Apps account for free but you'll only be able to get 1 user per account rather than the 10 you get today," explains Greg D'Alesandre, Senior Product Manager for Google App Engine.
With this starting today all new customers:
- "Individuals wishing to use Google's web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device.
- For Businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox, and a 99.9% uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year.
- Google Apps for Government for $50 per user, per year," google said.
In other Google news, Google Drive as on December 6 has 5,000 new stock images.
"A few months ago, many of you submitted ideas on how we can expand the selection of stock images in Google Drive to add to the categories that you're most interested in. Thanks to your suggestions, 5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. More than 900 of these photos were selected directly from your submissions -- we really appreciate your help!," google blogged.
And, the National Archives is going Google, "together with Google reseller Unisys, the Archives will move its 4,500 employees and contractors to Google Apps for Government in 2013," google announced.
"Google Apps will improve the ability of Archives employees in 44 locations nationwide to collaborate with one another, as well as with their customers and partners outside the agency. Archives employees across the nation will also get anytime, anywhere access to their data," Google said.
"What's more, the FISMA-certified Google tools will keep the Archives' data safe while also providing a reliable system with built-in failover and disaster recovery," google adds.
The National Archives and Record Administration in Washington, DC known as the nation's record keeper, "protects and provides public access to more than 10 billion pages of textual records, in addition to maps, photographs, videos and more than 133 terabytes of electronic records."
Update 12/08: The following feature are intended for release to the domains on December 11th: "Gmail Users now have the ability to insert files up to 10GB from Drive directly into an email without leaving Gmail. Gmail will automatically check that recipients have access to any files being sent."
Google also added the ability for super admins to Apps to designate users as admins for specific organizational units. Users in a domain can be arranged in organizational units to better control the services and features they have access to.