Google is forcing G Suite legacy free edition accounts to upgrade to paid Google Workspace Business plans.
Free Is Never Truly Free
In 2006, Google released Google Apps for Your Domain, and offered both free edition and paid business offerings. The free service was spectacular, provided all of Google’s enterprise solutions for small businesses, simply lacking enterprise support. The initial free edition provided means for custom domain names to be used with Gmail, Calendar, AdWords, and AdSense, then Drive once it was released, in a single, consolidated dashboard.
Many small businesses like my own Hamor Photography, Hamor Hollow Hedgehogs, and Trunkmonkey Racing immediately jumped on the Google Apps beta, and have been relying on the service ever since. Many friends, coworkers, and family members also jumped on board, creating Google Apps free edition accounts for their family domain names and personal projects and hobbies.
The First Purge — Time To Start Worrying
Just in time for Christmas 2012, Google announced that the legacy free edition would no longer be accepting new signups, and that all new accounts would be paid business accounts. This brought into question how long legacy free edition users would be grandfathered, and many of the aforementioned friends, coworkers, and family members reached out for advice.
Unfortunately, the only advice was to hurry up and wait, while hoping that the legacy free edition would continue to be free for the foreseeable future. At the time, Google didn’t commit to any timeframe to keep legacy free edition active. Fortunately, us grandfathered users continued to enjoy a free offering for almost a decade, all the while expecting a bill or reduction of services at any moment.
After a while, two family members reached out to ask why they could no longer log into G Suite. I forget the timeframe and exact details, but Google started deleting legacy free edition accounts if an admin hadn’t logged into the admin console for a set period of time. These grandfathered accounts were now gone forever, much to the disappointment of these two family members.
The Final Purge — Whip Out Your Credit Card
Google Apps for Your Domain was subsequently rebranded as G Suite in 2016, then again rebranded as Google Workspace in late 2020. Multiple rebrands in such a short period of time foreshadowed this year’s shutdown of legacy free edition accounts. And then the announcement emails, articles, and class-action lawsuits started flying.
- G Suite legacy free edition
- Compare Google Workspace editions
- Google could face class action lawsuit over free G Suite legacy account shutdown
- Google survey teases a happy ending for free legacy G Suite customers
But, even after the announcements, Google is still teasing the continuation of a free edition. The announcement has a firm statement of: “To support you in this transition, you will have discount options for 12 months after July 1, 2022.” But, a few sentences later, there’s a non-committal: “Once you’re upgraded, you can use your new Google Workspace subscription and functionality at no-cost until at least July 1, 2022.”
For avoidance of doubt, Google then plainly states: “If you take no action by May 1, 2022, Google will begin upgrading your organization seamlessly to a new Google Workspace subscription. The new subscription will be based on what you currently use with your G Suite legacy free edition. If you do not enter your billing details before July 1, 2022, your subscription will be suspended.”
50% Off for Twelve Months
I don’t know if this 50% discount is being offered to all users, but the discount appeared for all of my current Google Workspace accounts that are based in the United States. The normal base price of $6 per user per year has been temporarily discounted to $3 per user for the first year. Since I have a few dozen users spread across my multiple Google Workspace accounts, including family members, there’s no way that I could justify the $6 cost for non-commercial users.
But the temporary discounted cost provides a buffer for organizations that won’t be able to migrate away from Google Workspace in the allotted time. And, with some creative purging and merging of role accounts, I’d consider staying with Google Workspace at the $3 per user per month cost. Especially if Google provided a simple way for family members to enter their credit card information to pay for their own user account, much like users can upgrade their Google Workspace storage.
You can start the upgrade process on your Google Workspace account by visiting the Google Admin dashboard, then selecting Billing → Manage subscriptions → G Suite legacy. As of this writing, you won’t start getting billed until September 16, 2022.
QUICK AND (PAINFUL) PAINLESS
Upgrading my first legacy free edition Hamor Photography account was quick and (painful) painless, and provided a link to next steps required to take advantage of new features:
But I can’t justify the separate expense of keeping Trunkmonkey Racing as its own Google Workspace account. Luckily, Google has announced that it will be offering migration tools, so I’m hoping that it will be possible to painlessly absorb legacy free edition accounts as an organizational units under my upgraded Hamor Photography account.
I’ll document the migration process in future articles once I’ve completed all steps. Here’s to hoping that Google will acknowledge that many families rely on Google Workspace, and continue to offer a less-expensive offering.
Originally published at Hamor Photography on March 16, 2022.