Recently, Google announced that they would be discontinuing the Google Apps Standard (Free) Edition of their Google Apps platform. This was kind of lame to hear, especially since Google seems to be so big on offering free stuff to personal/non-profit users. Luckily, I had already created my domains and had them setup on Google apps long before this “discontinuation”, so my account was grandfathered in. In fact, one of my accounts was created back when they offered 50 users in the Google Apps Standard Edition and I have apparently been allowed to keep those 50 licenses for that domain.
At any rate, I am posting because I have recently discovered that it appears Google Apps Standard (Free) Edition still exists. It is just slightly hidden. The trick is to sign up for a Google Apps Business Edition 30 Day Trial. Before your 30 day trial is up, Go into your domain settings and attempt to Cancel your Google Apps account. You will need to not have any users & all market place apps need to be removed as well in order to do be able to get the Cancel option. Upon attempting to cancel your account, you will be presented with 2 options: 1) Downgrade your account to a Google Apps Standard (Free) account — allows no more than 10 users & limits some of the Google Apps functionality, but perfect for those who just need good free webmail service with a custom domain & 1-10 users. Or option 2) Cancel the account immediately.
So for those of you who were wanting to take advantage of Google services with your own custom domain without the cost that businesses pay, this is how you do it. I have not actually gone through these steps. I just happened to notice the option when I was deleting some sub domains for one of my customers so that they could be re-added to their primary Google Apps domain. I did not take the time to test the Google Apps Standard option, but it is there.
Update (4/21/2013 1:57AM): I just attempted to setup a new domain with Google Apps following my method above. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work. The accounts I was toying with must have been grandfathered in to have the ability to downgrade while still in their 30 day trial period. But it appears that new domains do not have the options to become Google Apps Standard accounts period. This is unfortunate, but Outlook.com offers a solution for free (and up to 50 users). See my next post here: Outlook.com & Custom Domains