End of the road for biz living off free G Suite legacy edition

Firms accustomed to freebies miffed that web giant's largess doesn't last

After offering free G Suite apps for more than a decade, Google next week plans to discontinue its legacy service – which hasn't been offered to new customers since 2012 – and force business users to transition to a paid subscription for the service's successor, Google Workspace.

"For businesses, the G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available after June 27, 2022," Google explains in its support document. "Your account will be automatically transitioned to a paid Google Workspace subscription where we continue to deliver new capabilities to help businesses transform the way they work."

Small business owners who have relied on the G Suite legacy free edition aren't thrilled that they will have to pay for Workspace or migrate to a rival like Microsoft, which happens to be actively encouraging defectors. As noted by The New York Times on Monday, the approaching deadline has elicited complaints from small firms that bet on Google's cloud productivity apps in the 2006-2012 period and have enjoyed the lack of billing since then.

Despite these inevitable gripes, Google's reorientation of its services may not have done much damage to its cloud services brand, long known for abandoning underperforming products. Todd Cave, founder and COO of Dallas, Texas-based Cave Consulting, told The Register that Google's decision to discontinue G Suite legacy free edition has not had a noticeable effect among his firm's clients.

"We don't typically recommend our clients trust any free subscription," said Cave in an email.

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Google keeps legacy G Suite alive and free for personal use

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Free services simply can't be counted on, as demonstrated by Google's discontinuation of unlimited cloud storage for Google Workspace for Education customers, which takes effect in July.

Things could be worse. When Google originally alerted the world to the end of G Suite legacy free edition in January, the impact looked as if it would affect everyone who had signed on during G Suite's early days.

But faced with an outcry, Google in May moderated its cull to include only those using the free G Suite for commercial purposes; those using G Suite legacy free edition for non-commercial purposes – individuals and families – were given the option to opt-out of the forced Workspace transition.

Customers able to opt-out will be allowed to continue using Gmail with whatever custom domain was set up for Google Apps for Your Domain, and will retain access to services like Drive, Calendar, Meet, and Chat at no cost.

Opting out is necessary for those who wish to avoid the transition. Failure to take action will result in G Suite legacy free edition accounts being suspended on August 1, 2022.

The Workspace transition does not affect those using the free version of Gmail that comes with a Google Account, or those using YouTube, Google Photos, or the personal version of Google Drive that comes with 15 GB of free storage.

In fact, it does not appear to affect all that many people. Citing an unidentified source, The New York Times says the number of individuals still using G Suite legacy free edition is "in the thousands." ®

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