They justify this move by saying that free version users quickly surpass the limits of the free version. They end up wanting things Google offers in thier commercial versions, such as 24/7 customer support and large e-mail mailboxes. This makes the option for a free version unneeded.
Google says that this change in the rules will not affected existing users, but just newly registered users. Hence, new users will either have to accept individual access to Google services, or subscribe to the business version, which includes ongoing support, box of 25 gigabytes per user and guarantee 99.9% uptime (guaranteed access to Google services at least 99.9 % of time).
The business version costs $50 per user for one year period and the same price applies for Google Apps for Government. A Version for educational institutions, Google Apps for Education will remain free.
[Ed – when Google Apps first came out we wondered when the free access for businesses and domains would end. We saw quite a few people opt to use Google Apps simply becasue they were free, but in the end they quickly outgrew the services or they found that they did not get everything they wanted (like push email support or blackberry support). We wonder how this new model will compete with Microsoft's Sky Drive and some of the lower end versions of Office 365 especially once computer makers start bundling Office 365 with systems. Once that happens you can expect Microsoft to start subsidising computer purchases like they do with Xbox Live. It is only a matter of time...]
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