Google Debuts Free Workspace Plan To Make Up For Killing Free G Suite Accounts
By Mikelle Leow, 04 Feb 2022
Two weeks ago, Google ticked users off by announcing that it would no longer support free G Suite legacy accounts from July 1, essentially pressuring them to upgrade to a paid version; members have until May 1 to make the switch. For those clinging onto the service, however, the good news is that the company is now rolling out a free ‘Workspace Essentials Starter’ plan, though it’s not entirely the same as the beloved G Suite.
For the uninitiated, Google used to let people without ‘@gmail.com’ email addresses register for access to a whole array of productivity apps—including Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Hangouts—for free. This also meant that they could use their own, third-party email addresses to use Gmail.
Google stopped giving out free G Suite accounts to new members way back in December 2012 but has continued to support existing accounts for almost a decade. That is set to change this year, according to a recent announcement.
Naturally, the company got heckled a lot for this—and one pending class-action lawsuit later, it has unveiled a free Workspace Essentials Starter tier that offers basically the same benefits promised to free legacy G Suite members. The biggest difference is that there won’t be Gmail.
That still leaves access to Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Meet, Chat, Calendar, Forms, Sites, and Keep for users whose email accounts rely on other servers. There is no trial period, and users need not enter credit card details.
“There’s no need for a new email address, file conversions, new plug-ins, or desktop software. All of the tools in Essentials Starter will work quickly and easily within your existing environment,” describes Kelly Waldher, VP of marketing at Google Workspace, in a blog post. “And because we designed Google Workspace to operate on our industry-leading cloud foundation, Essentials Starter provides encrypted and secure access to files, helping keep users safe and their information private.”
Other features in the new free scheme include 15GB of Google Drive storage, 60-minute video meetings for up to 100 people, and a team management dashboard for up to 25 users. For US$6 a month, users can upgrade to the existing Business Starter plan, which will crank up the 15GB storage capacity to 30GB.
“The new Google Workspace Essentials Starter Edition is a no-cost solution for business users looking to enhance teamwork and unlock innovation with secure-by-design collaboration,” notes Waldher. “Essentials Starter can help employees and their teams break down silos and work together in new ways, even if their organization still relies on legacy productivity tools that weren’t built for the hybrid era of work.”
The plan will roll out globally over the next few weeks. In the meantime, you can sign up for it here.
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