In 2020, G Suite became Google Workspace as part of a mass reorganization of the company’s apps for the “future of work.” Various plans were migrated over, and Google is now finally getting rid of the G Suite legacy free edition.
“Google Apps” for businesses and schools were introduced 16 years ago and was discontinued in 2012. However, the company made no significant changes to those free accounts in the past decade, until today.
In an email to administrators this morning, Google said it “will now transition all remaining users to an upgraded Google Workspace paid subscription based on your usage.” As such, Workspace’s only free plans are for Nonprofits and Education (Fundamentals).
After getting free Gmail, Drive, Docs, and other apps for the past several years, companies/people will need to start paying for those Google services and the ability to use your own custom domain (instead of just gmail.com).
OSNews happens to be an organisation that started out using the original Google Apps for Your Domain, and over the years, we’ve been migrated left, right, and centre through the various iterations and rebrandings of Google’s collection of services for organisations. We are one of the accounts that have been grandfathered into the current Google Workspace stuff, but we never had a choice – Google just migrated you.
That doesn’t sound too bad, until you, as I have done over the past several years, find out that tons of Google services, and specific features of services, are not available to you. The reasoning here is that while Google Apps for Your Domain originally started out a service for individuals, families, and small organisations, it eventually grew into this massive corporate software suite where it perhaps makes sense to limit certain services and features.
Because Google originally advertised this collection of services as much for personal accounts as it did for organisational accounts, many people, including myself, never could have anticipated our personal accounts would be forcibly turned into corporate accounts, which come with the aforementioned limitations. I can’t set calendar appointments through Google Assistant, for instance, which is annoying since we use Google Home devices. I cannot invite my fiancée to become a member of our household and control our lights and other Google Home devices through her account and phone. I cannot use Google Stadia (not that I’d want to, but still). And that’s just a small selection.
Why don’t we just migrate to a regular Google account, you ask? Well, because it’s not possible. Google offers no way to either change an account from what is now Google Workspace into a personal account, nor does Google offer the ability to migrate all your accounts’ data, settings, emails, and so on from a Workspace account into a new personal account. Unless we throw everything out the window, or painstakingly move over every tiny bit of data for every single service manually, we’re going to be stuck.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable of Google to ask that we old, grandfathered accounts pay for their services. That’s fine. What is not fine, however, is slowly locking us into stunted, limited accounts, after advertising it as a personal service for years.