Several years ago, the tech giant Google provided its users the capability to utilize a custom domain that would further link to different Google products, apps, and other services. For example, rather using the usual gmail.com as the email, one could now easily use a customized domain name while continuing the utilize Gmail as the main interface and platform of selection. Surprisingly, at that point of time, it was offered to its users at zero cost who were not inclined toward other extra features. However, for a customized domain name, there was a minimal price that one had to pay. This offer was later discontinued by Google but the veteran users were given the privilege to use these services without any fees or issue, till now when Google announced and shocked the world with its statement of taking off the legacy G Suite accounts off the shelf.
During the first week of January, Google made an announcement to take off free Google Workspace accounts that were utilizing the G Suite legacy free edition. Apparently, Google Cloud has planned to discontinue its G Suite legacy free edition which dates back to the year 2006 after stopping new users from signing up for the free version in December, 2012. The free version will be no longer available for use starting July, 1 and if the current users want to keep utilizing the current services, they must upgrade their accounts to the paid subscription for the latest Google Workspace by May 1 to keep their accounts and other services up and running. Earlier known as Google Apps, G Suite was rebranded and launched in the market as Google Workspace with an enhanced and improved set of cloud-based productivity and collaboration tools in October 2020. Now Google Workspace included Gmail, Google Meet, Calendar, Chat, Docs, Drive, Slide, Sheets, Sites, and Forms. The legacy free edition of G Suite has lesser business apps and features as compared to the paid version. During the official announcement, Google said, “After you upgrade, you can use your new subscription at no cost until at least July 1, 2022. If you choose to wait, Google will begin upgrading subscriptions automatically on May 1, 2022. We will upgrade your organization to a new Google Workspace subscription based on the features you currently use.” Users which are automatically upgraded need to add the require billing details before July 1 to complete the upgrading process while preventing subscription suspension.
A Peep into the History
Google Workspace, as we know it today, is an entirely different product from its earliest versions. The productivity subscription package by Google is now focused majorly on businesses. With Software-as-a-Service approach, Google is offering businesses a myriad of business plans, which includes Business Starter, Business Standard, and Business Plus. The price range of these plans are between $6 to $18 per user per month.
In the year 2006, after the official launch of Gmail and Google Calendar, Google extended its capabilities by offering its users to include a domain name in the Google account. For example, now one can buy a domain name for the family name or any other name and utilize it for all associated email addresses. Initially known as Google Apps for Your Domain, this feature was absolutely free and the targeted customers weren’t just businesses and corporate organizations. However, this free feature was stopped by Google in 2012.
How to Switch to Paid Subscription of Google Workspace Service?
Google, while making the announcement, suggested that the swap made between the free legacy accounts of G Suite and Google Workspace would be entirely seamless and won’t impact the user experience in any way. In case any user decides not to go for the paid subscription, Google will automatically transition the specific account and will set the user with plan that would resonate with features he is currently using. With that in place, one doesn’t have to pay anything for all these services until July 1, 2022.
If one wants to keep the Google Workspace services and apps up and running, setting up the Google Workspace billing before 1 July, 2022 is mandatory. After this deadline, all Workspace accounts without a valid and complete billing details will be suspended. This also means losing the access to all services and productivity tools offered by Workspace. If the plan is to switch to any other tool, Google’s Data Export Tool can be utilized to export the data.
For the ease of users, Google Workspace has launched three plans: Business Starter, costing $6/month per user, Business Standard, costing $12/month per user, and Business Plus, costing $18/month per user.
The Middle Way
In strictly professional terms, Google has no legal or any other obligation to provide a service free of cost forever. But the reaction post the kill-off announcement, even from some of the most tech-savvy organizations was bit of a shock. Several of these organizations are utilizing these G-suite legacy accounts over a decade now. Seeing this kind of reaction forced Google to come up with a middle way. Rather forcing people to pay for accounts or killing the G Suite legacy accounts, Google has come up with the third option as it states that:
“In the coming months, we’ll provide an option for you to move your non-Google Workspace paid content and most of your data to a no-cost option. This new option won’t include premium features like custom email or multi-account management. You’ll be able to evaluate this option prior to July 1, 2022 and prior to account suspension. We’ll update this article with details in the coming months.”
One of the key issues with the legacy free accounts is that they act and utilized as Google accounts for all Google apps and services. In addition to calendar events, emails, contacts, majority of G Suite legacy free accounts are also associated with Google Maps, YouTube, Google Playstore, Google Drive, etc. Asking users to either pay for services or cancel their accounts that are not just a mail inbox makes this situation a whole lot complicated. Besides, Google has also set up a survey for G Suite legacy free accounts admins with 10 users of lesser to understand their perspective, interests in other options, and views on Google updates. In the end, it would be interesting to see how Google would navigate these murky waters when the conditions are definitely not favoring it.