Current users and domains won’t be effected, but the free version of Google Apps is gone.
Back in 2008 when Google introduced Google Apps, their online Office Suite, it came in two different versions. Small businesses and those Gmail users that wanted to implement a custom mail domain (50 users or less) without having to set up a dedicated mail server or incurring any additional expense could use Google Apps Standard. Larger groups (51 or more users) were required to pay a subscription fee and use Google Apps for Business. Today, Google Apps Standard was discontinued.
Current users of Google Apps Standard won’t have to subscribe. Google Apps Standard is still free for educational customers. New users will need to subscribe to Google Apps Premium.
I am a current Google Apps Standard user for my personal site, iTechGear.org. I rarely use any of the office suite apps. I use it mainly for Gmail and a customized email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Users that want to use Google Apps for that, who are not educational customers, must now pay for Google Apps for Business.
Pricing for Google Apps for business can be seen here. Basically, its $5 per user per month or $50 per user a year. That includes 25GB of Gmail storage and 5GB of Google Drive Storage. You can also use a customized email address if you wish.
For casual users like me, this would be a bit pricey. I wouldn’t choose this option if I had to do this now. For small businesses and one to two man operations, this isn’t a good option, in my opinion. Thankfully, I’m grandfathered in…for now. This is likely not the end of this type of move by Google, either. There are a number of Google Standard users out there, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they get move to the Google Apps for Business realm and will be required to pay a subscription or lose their use of the service.
Time will tell, however; and until then, I’m glad I got in early.