On Friday, Google sent an email to current customers of their free service for small business.
Until then, you could sign up for a free version of Google Apps that allowed you to hook your own Internet domain same to a Google account and create email accounts for up to ten people using that address.
For example, as a small business, you could connect “my-business-name.com.au” to your Google Apps account and create email addresses for your staff with that address rather than just using generic addresses from your ISP.
Unfortunately, that free service is no longer available. If you are already a user of the free service you won’t find yourself being charged for the service but you can’t create a new free account.
In the past, Google offered a free version of Google Apps for Business. In what Google calls a way of making things more “straightforward” the free version is gone with the US$50 per year per user now the only business version.
There seems to be a short window during which you’ll be able to sign up for the paid version and then downgrade to the free version but you’ll need to do that by the end of the year.
Government and education services are unaffected.