• Business users will get free access to team video meetings, real-time messaging, ability to store and share and co-edit more than 100 file types.
  • The tools under Essential Starter will work quickly and also blend within the existing environment.

Google Cloud is launching a new free but limited version of its Google Workspace collaboration and productivity suite. The Google Workspace Essential Starter renders business users no-cost access to its Google Sheets, Docs, Slides, Drive, Chat, Meet and Tasks using their existing emails.

The features include one-on-one and team video meetings, real-time messaging, team collaboration in Spaces; all of it is integrated with Google Workspace tools. Features also include the ability to store, share, and co-edit more than 100 file types, including Microsoft Office documents and PDFs, without the need for file conversations. The Workspace ‘Essential Starter’ version is accessible from mobile devices, tablets, computers, Drive for Desktop as it enables syncing of folders and files to a personal computer or Mac.

Google Cloud also rebranded its former G Suite cloud-native apps that are powered by Google Artificial Intelligence as Google Workspace in October 2020. Currently, Google Workspace has more than 3 billion users across enterprise and education, and consumers, according to Google Cloud. Its usage has accelerated in the wake of the pandemic and shift to remote and hybrid work.

In a blog post, Kelly Waldher, Vice President of Marketing for Google Workspace, framed a new free offering as making it feasible for employees to choose their own productivity tools for work. Another point to note is that Google Workspace Essential Starter Edition doesn’t require a file conversion, new email address or new plug-ins for ease of employees.

Does it perform better than paid editions of Google Workspace?

The Google Workspace Essential Starter is different from the paid edition of Google workspace that consists of features such as custom business email management, more storage per user, advanced video meeting features, enterprise-grade admin controls and other features.

The Google Workspace Essential Edition is not bundled with Gmail. Instead, it includes group meetings and one-to-one video calls for up to 100 people. The starter edition also does not include advanced security features or live support. It comes with 15GB of Google Drive Storage and no shared Drives.

Is it a replacement for G Suite Legacy Free Edition?

The new offering when comes at a time when Google declared that it will be retiring its G suite legacy free edition that was introduced in 2006 and has successfully reduced a set of business features.

Also, the G Suite Legacy will no longer be available from July 1. The current users will need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription by May 1 to maintain their services and accounts.

Conclusively, Google Workspace Essential Starter is not a replacement for the G Suite Legacy free offering. Also, there will be no path to migrate from G Suite Legacy free edition to seamlessly migrate from the G Suite legacy free edition to Google Workspace Essentials Starter, according to a Google Cloud spokesperson.

Experts’ view

“Essentials Starter can help employees and their teams break down silos and work together in new ways, even if their organization still relies on legacy productivity tools that weren’t built for the hybrid era of work,” Waldher said in a blog post. “All of the tools in Essentials Starter will work quickly and easily within your existing environment. And because we designed Google Workspace to operate on our industry-leading cloud foundation, Essentials Starter provides encrypted and secure access to files, helping keep users safe and their information private.”

“The G Suite legacy free offering gives customers a custom email and access to basic business features,” the spokesperson said. “While Google Workspace Essentials Starter is also available at no cost, it was designed for people at work and does not include custom email—it’s meant to work with their existing work email and does not need domain verification.”