Google Makes Workspace Free for Everyone

Posted on June 14, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Cloud, Google with 23 Comments

Google announced that it is making paid Workspace features available to non-paying Google account holders, creating a single, integrated experience for everyone.

“Over the last year, we’ve delivered innovations that bring together the content, communications, and tasks that help millions of businesses, nonprofits and classrooms transform how they collaborate, make the most of their time, and have more impact,” A post written by Google vice presidents Kelly Waldher and Aparna Pappu reads. “Now we’re bringing those same innovations to everyone else. Starting today, all of Google Workspace is available to anyone with a Google account.”

To date, Google Workspace—previously called G Suite—has worked a bit like Microsoft/Office 365. The firm offered both free and paid versions of services like Gmail, Docs, and Sheets, and the paid versions offered more functionality alongside management capabilities. But with this change, paid Workspace features are being made available to non-paying customers, creating a simpler, singular codebase for Google to maintain and offering customers even more value.

And one might argue that the newly free Workspace isn’t really free, as you need to enable Google Chat in Gmail to access the paid features. Google Chat is Google’s answer to Zoom, the darling of the pandemic era, and rival services like Microsoft Teams.

Google is also introducing a new paid Workspace offering called Workspace Individual. This is aimed at entrepreneurs and other individuals who work alone or in very small businesses, and it provides premium services related to booking services, professional video meetings, and personalized email marketing, and Google says more features are planned for the future. Workspace Individual is coming soon to Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, and the United States. No pricing information is available yet, but you can sign-up here for more information.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Google Makes Workspace Free for Everyone”

  1. whistlerpro

    I wonder if this is in part an answer to iCloud+, since that would have started to encroach on some Google Workspace features like custom domain email at a lower price than Google or Microsoft were offering. Depends on the pricing I guess.

    • jchampeau

      I can't imagine either Google or Microsoft is worried about the iCloud stuff since you still have to initiate those meetings from an Apple device. I figure they're just trying again to make a dent in the continued commercial M365 growth.

  2. aelaan

    Well… that service is doomed… Anything Google does “for free” will be taken down by Google… Thankfully I removed my company information, well…. Of course they have backups….

    • spacein_vader

      You mean like free search, free chrome and free Gmail were all taken down?


      • hrlngrv

        What about pay-to-use Youtube?

      • winner

        Thank goodness he still has Microsoft Band, Zune, Kin, Plays for Sure, Windows RT.

        Oh, wait...

        • hrlngrv

          A Kin phone still in the original shrinkwrap has gotta be worth something some day. It'll share the pedestal with the original Apple Newton and Scientist Barbie.

          • Paul Thurrott

            :) Nice. I'm not sure if this was retail packaging, but the Kins I got came in big tubes, like you see with good Scotch.
  3. harmjr

    Is it just me or has Google lost its mojo and just playing catch up these days.

    • Paul Thurrott

      This is the type of thing that happens when you're dominant.
    • wright_is

      Well, it fought hard to take over the crown of IT bad boy from Microsoft, after they abdicated. Now they are reaping the rewards, along with the pretenders to the throne, Facebook and Amazon.

  4. ringofvoid

    I'm curious about how much mindshare Google gets from younger students using Google Workspace. I've seen my youngest using Slides especially for collaborating on school projects. I've used both Gsuite and M365 at work and noticed that moving away from Outlook & Excel are big pain points for virtually everyone. However, if you grow up on Google Workspace, will you really care about which office suite you use?

    • wright_is

      I think that was the good thing about growing up when I did. There were so many competing products, you weren't actually taught "how to use WordPerfect/WordStar/DisplayWrite IV" or 1-2-3/Multiplan etc. You were taught how a word processor or spreadsheet worked. You were taught about tab stops and formatting and typography (Pica and Elite) and later proportional fonts etc.

      The same for a computer, you didn't learn VMS, VME, MVE, UNIX, CP/M, MS-DOS or Mac Finder etc. you were taught how an operating system worked and what its functions were.

      That made it much easier to jump from one platform to another and quickly pick up the essentials.

      At one point, I was supporting systems written in COBOL, dBase II, BASIC, C, Assembler, 4th Dimension, PowerHouse, Excel, Hypercard, Lightspeed Pascal and a bunch of other tools and languages and I had a collection of hardware on my desk - a Burroughs BTOS terminal, a DEC VT100, a DEC Rainbow, an IBM PC, an HP125, an HP150, an HP Vectra, and a Mac Plus (with a 20MB external SCSI drive). I did manage to rationalise the VT100 away, with a heavy heart, it had the best keyboard of the lot of them and the HP125 and HP150 fell away as well, over time. (You'll also notice, 3 different MS-DOS based machines in the list, all 100% incompatible with each other!)

      Nowadays, there are "standard" products or preferred products (or products pushed on education by big IT). Pupils and students no longer learn how something works, they just learn how the package de Jour functions. That makes them a lot less flexible, when they arrive in the workplace.

      "I know Google Workplace."

      "Bully for you, we use SAP through terminal emulation software on a PC."

    • hrlngrv

      Specifically with respect to Slides vs PowerPoint, one of the greater blights in the modern office is EVERYONE being able to create presentations. 99.99% of white collar workers have as much talent at creating presentations as a comparable % of 9-year-olds playing the violin. A child in primary or secondary school shouldn't be trying to use advanced features (nor should the aforementioned 99.99% of adults, but that ain't gonna change). Titles and bodies for each slide with relatively simple methods for inserting images and using bullet points is all those children should be trying to use in school presentations, and there's very little difference between Slides and PowerPoint at that level.

      Excel is one of the most problematic pieces of software commonly found on enterprise desktops. An outstanding example of the 80-20 rule, but in Excel's case it means 80% of users wasting at least 20% of the time it's running trying to find what they need. Excel has far too many features for most white collar workers. Some need to use spreadsheet models A FEW OTHERS have built, so there should be an Excel runtime. Beyond that, other than THOSE FEW building complex spreadsheet models, a slightly beefed up Works spreadsheet would be more than sufficient. Google Sheets serves most people needs better than Excel does.

  5. payton

    Yeah, my personal data going into their coffer-feeding algorithms doesn't qualify as free for me. No thanks, Google, just like all your other services. (It's no coincidence that "servicing" is also used to mean what bulls are hired to do to cows.)

  6. curtisspendlove

    Probably a good move. But it’s still Google. So there are the regular trade-offs.

    Looks like custom domains in Gmail are maybe still behind the paywall (which is fine). But maybe I’m wrong.

    I think I still prefer M365 to G-Suite. But I’d say this is a great step for the overall world. (Not everyone is okay with paying or able to pay for this set of features.)

  7. Chris_Kez

    I guess when you make nearly $150B a year in advertising you can afford to give away a productivity suite. I didn't see any mention of whether this impacts enterprise accounts. Also, does this mean that individuals with paid G Suite accounts will finally get access to all the features and integrations that regular Google accounts enjoy?

    • hrlngrv

      Other than MS Office and the lingering corpse of WordPerfect Office, almost all other productivity suites have been free since IBM bought Lotus Development Corp and let SmartSuite die.

      • wright_is

        We aren't talking Office suites per se, we are talking about online collaboration platforms.

  8. anoldamigauser

    It is just a way for Google to collect more metadata to feed the advertising machine.

  9. james_makumbi

    Has anyone noticed that no one has actually used this now free product?

    Somehow, Google has gotten everyone to write about a product that hasn't yet launched as if it is actually out in the wild being used.