<!–:st–>Sign up before May 10.<!–st:–>
Google has dramatically dropped the maximum number of users for the free version of its productivity suite and document management platform Google Apps to 10 users, down from 50.
From early May, administrators would need to upgrade from the free Google Apps Standard to Google Apps for Business, which costs US$50 per user a year, if they wanted to add an eleventh user. The change in policy effectively sets the entry-level price for Google Apps for Business at US$550 per year (for 11 users).
“As of May 10, any organization that signs up for a new account will be required to use the paid Google Apps for Business product in order to create more than 10 users,” Google wrote in an email to Google Apps administrators. However, Google Apps Standard accounts that were created before May 10 were exempt from the lower limit.
Administrators of existing accounts would be able to add up to 50 users before being forced to switch to Google Apps for Business.
Small businesses not already using either edition of Google Apps should sign up for a free Google Apps account before the May 10 deadline, even if they have no intention of moving from a competing product in the short term.
<!–:ct–>A business with 50 users registering before May 10 will pay nothing for Google Apps Standard, which includes most of the features of Google Apps for Business.<!–ct:–> After May 10, a business will need to pay $2500 a year for 50 users.
While Google’s productivity suite has a long way to catch up in features and polish compared to rival Microsoft Office, it has shown a very rapid rate of innovation. Registering for Google Apps is free and an account can lie dormant until the moment when a business chooses to explore it as an alternative, if it arises.