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The free version of Google Workspace

Workers looking to experience a host of the most popular Google Workspace software can now try for free thanks to a new offering from the company.

It not only provides your company with an email host, but also its wide suite of tools like Google Sheets, Drive, Chat, Docs, Meetings, etc. While you can also access them with a personal Google account, if your company used alternative email hosts or workspace solutions like Microsoft 365 Business or Zoho, you won’t be able to access Google Workspace tools—until now.

Google has launched a new free tier of Google Workspace, dubbed the Google Workspace Essentials Starter edition. It will allow anyone with a business email to access the Google Workspace simply by signing up for it. Once you’ve signed up for it, you can then create a team and invite your co-workers into it, streamlining working on certain projects. You’ll also get to use Google Meet, Chat, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Drive, although the latter will only come with 15GB of cloud storage per user just like a personal account. Being a free product, it certainly seems like it offers a lot for small companies who perhaps already use these services with their own Gmail accounts alongside their company email.

Among the benefits Google claims their free Workspace provides includes better collaboration on products without stuff like version control and email attachments getting in the way thanks to Sheets, Slides and Docs. You can also store, share and edit together with your colleagues on over 100 different file types, including the usual suspects of Microsoft Office documents and PDFs without needing to convert your files every time. Workspace Essentials Starter also gives users access to Google Chat, and the Spaces feature within that’s formerly known as Rooms. Users can share quick updates, drop files and discuss with team members too simply with Google Chat as they work on projects together.

There are some other restrictions too by going for the free tier Google Workspace. According to the support page for Workspace Essentials Starter edition, a team can only be set up for up to 25 people, although your company can still create an unlimited numbers of teams. You also won’t be eligible for support from Google themselves, and your version of Meetings and Chats will have limitations too such as a maximum meeting length of an hour, as well as no built-in recordings, Q&A and polls as well as no dial-in feature too. It’s also perhaps worth pointing out that your company’s IT department won’t be able to have as much control over the company’s workspace, which may lead to issues over security and administration, although team leaders can still add and remove members.

It also does seem as though that this move to introduce a free tier of Google Workspace isn’t totally due to Google’s own goodwill. Instead, it appears to be a reaction to the criticism it faced recently when it tried to end legacy, free G Suite accounts by suspending them if they didn’t move to a paid account by July this year. Google eventually did relent, allowing for a data migration option to a consumer account before they shut down these accounts. The new Google Workspace Essentials Starter thus seems like a way for these users to get back on their side, by giving them access to Google’s suite of tools again for free, albeit with a couple more restrictions this time.

Nevertheless, Google Workspace Essentials Starter still seems, on paper at least, a solid way for smaller companies especially to get into the Google Workspace ecosystem, especially if they’re already using an alternative email hosting solution. It’s not available just yet though; Google Workspace Essentials Starter will only be rolling out globally in the coming weeks. If you’re interested though, you can head over to its webpage and sign up to be notified when it becomes available.


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