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Google Apps No Longer Free for Small Businesses

Google on Tuesday said it is changing the terms of its free service for small businesses, requiring any organization with more than 10 users to subscribe to its paid Google Apps for Business.

The move takes effect May 10 but excludes schools and nonprofits, Google announced in a blog post. Only new users are impacted by the new rule; existing customers (with up to 50 users) are grandfathered.

"This change will allow us to deliver on the expectations of our small business customers and invest in new features that will help them succeed," Google said. Among those expectations are customer support, more storage and 99.9 percent service-level agreements.

Google Apps for Business is the company's Web-based productivity, collaboration and messaging service.

The company also announced a new monthly pricing option for customers. Those who sign up for the annual $50 plan can pay in monthly installments. Also, those that don't want to commit to an annual contract can opt for a new $5 per month plan.

The move comes just one week after Microsoft released its Office 365 beta. The small-business version of Office 365, known as Plan P1, will cost $6 a month.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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