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Sure, you can pony up some money to use Google Apps and email, but there are plenty of free alternatives (and ways to stick with Google and get what you need without paying for the stuff you don't!)
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Man, I'm psyched that I already had free Google Apps setup for a new business my family is starting.
+Greg Vest  Me too, but unfortunately they could very easily tweak a few things to make the free accounts essentially unusable over time, either deliberately or unintentionally by constantly upgrading their non-free apps and leaving the free stuff to languish.  I would be very surprised if they keep supporting the free apps accounts for very long at the level that they have been.
Good read, but I'm thinking I'd easily pay $50/year to not jump through hoops and assemble my own solution.
If anyone is in business and paying $50 per employee a year for all those services, makes a difference to their bottom line, then they should seriously reconsider being in business. Hangouts alone is worth it.
If you're bummed because you missed the free Google Apps account (like me) then I don't see the point of recommending Office 365 as an alternative when it costs more than the paid Google Apps account. Why would I pay more for an alternative that I wanted less?

And for those dashing off the "hey, it's only $50 year" comments (in the article comments section), that's $50 per user. When you are a small business barely profitable, or worse not yet profitable, that adds up quickly. For 6 employees on a shoestring budget, that's $30/month which is a utility bill (or a million other little things that eat away at profitability).

I'm not saying that is Google's problem, but to dismiss the loss of the free Google Apps account as just a problem for cheapskates is to miss the impact on small businesses scraping by to stay afloat and grow.
Hehe...lifehacker said pony. [](/lunateehee)
I remember the kicking around of this in a startup, they went with a hosted exchange server, and decided to pay for storage used and the like... costs added up farther than they expected.  
For small businesses, it depends on the business and what functionality you need...  if 30 a month is a lot, and you only have 6 people... and you have a website, why not just use your business hosting account for a few email addresses? You probably already have the features.  
For me, I like the versatility/productivity of google products, but that's just my view.  And many companies suffer from shortcutting and going cheap, often in the cost of time wasted for employees to deal with quirks in their way of doing things.  
Btw, the article really does not do a good job of offering alternatives. Zoho is an alternative, not the smorgasbord/miss-mash of disparate products mentioned in the article. And offering Office 365? Puh-lease. Lifehacker, do you not like your readers?
Since when does using gapps and gmail cost money?!
Google apps for business has nothing to do with your individual google account. Why the fuck is this such a hard concept for people to grasp? FFS.
for businesses, they want the business domain name on the emails i bet.  plus more administrative control over the accounts, say if someone leaves the company or the like...  or for delegation of email.
Getting something for nothing has limits, and in the end breaks down to simply reevaluating where to go with things.  Even with paying, it's still an outstanding service for the cost compared to many others.  If the alternatives work better for the price, then i say go for it, and the market will dictate if Google's Apps setups is worth it. .  
+Daniel Christinat Google is evil because the free service that they provide to you doesn't meet your expectations and sense of entitlement?

Please tell me more about what you're entitled to receive from a free service.
Before this announce, I was evaluating Google Apps and already decided to switch to the paying version. The free version was already crippled for no reason and has limitations. In fact, I think it was a mistake to have a free version like it was a mistake to allow people to register on G+ with non Gmail email addresses. They realize it now because they want to unify the service.

I also find that I'm more confortable paying for a service, with a contract and a guarantee. And, last but not least, it means that I have no ads. That's exactly how things should work.
Google made the argument that they are getting rid of the free version because the free users eventually upgrade to the paid version anyway.

This makes no sense. Drug dealers give away the first hit or two to get a new paying addict. If they didn't, their customer vase would be significantly smaller.

So Google is saying that they had a new paying customer vacuum bringing in tons of new business. Now they are shutting off the vacuum hoping that inertia will keep new clients coming in. Seems legit.
0.01% of Google's yearly revenue is from Gapps for business.

They didn't make this change because they wanted more money -_-
Daniel > I tend to think that people in your family could pay for themselves. It makes sense to pay for a service. I don't understand why the fact that you manage 18 accounts is an argument to get the service for free.
Even so, his accounts have been grandfathered and will still be free, So why is he bitching?
+Daniel Christinat it might take a little more work, but using share capabilities in normal gmail would work for most things you already need, and a home administered NAS solution would handle your storage, especially since the modern ones have some great cloud features for a fraction of that cost.  Calendars are share-able, etc.  

Or just self host a domain, it's not hard nowadays.  

The reality here is you want something for free, and while we got used to google providing free, it really does cost them to provide the services.  They've had to adjust to maintain the quality and viability of the service.  

It's kinda like getting upset at your neighbor who decides he'll help out and mow your lawn for you, and when he gets a new job and doesn't have the time to help you, you get mad at him.
+Scott Jordan > It's not hard to understand that they are simply unifying all their services and making everything easier and more consistent.

Basically, everything is a google account that you pay for with all the services and a domain administrator.

The is just one domain were the administrator gives account for free (and display ads) but that's it.

It's a big cleaning because there was some huge mess there.

Now, that's also a lesson that you never count on a free provider and always be ready to switch.
I hope facebook is down again.  It needs to be.  :)
They are simply not accepting new free customers. I don't see how this could be evil.

Then, let see the future, but a service always need to evolve. I've myself sent an email to my paying customers telling them that my hosting service will be closed in 3 months and that existing contracts will be honoured but not renewed. Am I evil? Even if you trusted me for years, you can understand that things are changing. I'm not breaking any contract, just not rewing any. I don't consider that as evil.

Would I become more evil if I told you that I have a free hosting service that will be closed too ? I notified all the free users with a 3 months time-frame.

Guess what ? Every reaction was thanking me for the free service during all those year. So I don't feel evil at all and I guess that the users don't feel it.

Now comes Google. They do exactly the same thing as I'm doing. But because they are big, they should be evil. ;-)
A large part of that is they are pushing to work the G+ and other products that can incorporate into g+ philosophy.  Not sure I agree with them, but that's the plan I heard about months ago.
Daniel > I was not satisfied with the free Google Apps but well by the paying one. Sorry to not be a big help but I would encourage you to have a look at owncloud.
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