Google to Start Charging Companies for Apps

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Google ( MSFT) is changing the rules when it comes to using Google Apps in the enterprise. The company now wants users to pay for the privilege.

Google has always offered two versions for individuals and for businesses: standard and premium for everyone. But Google thinks that choice "wasn't quite right for either group."

So, Google's enterprise blog explains the new rules this way:

"We've decided to make things very straightforward. Starting today for all new customers:

Individuals wishing to use Google's web apps like Gmail and Google Drive should create a free personal Google Account, which provides a seamless experience across all of our web services on any device.

For businesses, instead of two versions, there will be one. Companies of all sizes will sign up for our premium version, Google Apps for Business, which includes 24/7 phone support for any issue, a larger, 25 GB inbox, and a 99.9% up time guarantee with no scheduled downtime. Pricing is still $50 per user, per year."

The new rules are for new Google Apps users. Existing customers aren't affected. Neither are other special customers. That means Google Apps for Education remains free while Google Apps for Government will stay at $50 per user, per year.

Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.

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