Google discontinuing free Google Apps accounts

From the Google Apps customer notice:

Hello from Google,

Here’s some important news about Google Apps—but don’t worry, there’s no need for you to take any action. We just want you to know that we’re making a change to the packages we offer.

Starting today, we’re no longer accepting new sign-ups for the free version of Google Apps (the version you’re currently using). Because you’re already a customer, this change has no impact on your service, and you can continue to use Google Apps for free.

Should you ever want to upgrade to Google Apps for Business, you’ll enjoy benefits such as 24/7 customer support, a 25 GB inbox, business controls, our 99.9% uptime guarantee, unlimited users and more for just $5 per user, per month.

You can learn more about this change in our Help Center or on the Enterprise Blog.

Thank you for using Google Apps.

Clay BavorDirector, Google Apps

Such a shame. Plenty of freelancers (myself included) love Google Apps which gave us a hosted Gmail service for our domain as well as other apps such as Calendar and Sites. Existing free accounts will continue (thankfully).

On the upside, $50 per user, per year for a hosted email service that rivals Exchange? It’s still a no-brainer.