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Google introduces free Workspace plan for businesses without Gmail

Organisations can enjoy all the collaboration benefits of Workspace, regardless of their email provider, for free

Google has announced a new free tier of its Workspace platform that lets companies that have existing email systems use its collaboration apps.

The Google Workspace Essentials Starter edition will work similarly to a personal Google account, though having an official package is likely to make it easier to use and deploy within a team. 

Users will be able to sign up for Essentials Starters using their existing email accounts - whether with Google, Microsoft or any other provider - and then invite colleagues to work on projects with Google Docs or Sheets and so on.

The package will come with 15GB of Google Drive storage for each member, and users will be able to communicate remotely with services such as Chat and Meet, despite Google not offering an email service within the tier. 

This latest offer comes just a week after Google announced it was killing off free legacy G Suite accounts. However, the exclusion of Gmail from the new package is a completely different offer; until now, the only way to have a Workspace account with a non-Google email address was to sign up to the Business Starter tier, which costs £8.29 per month. That is still an available option, but with the 'Essentials Starter' users just need to sign up with their work email and no credit card information is needed. 

Along with the storage limits, there also appears to be a user cap of 25 per team account, however, there is no stopping companies from getting around that by setting up multiple accounts. 

"Essentials Starter helps employees and their teams break down silos and work together in new ways, even if their organisation still relies on legacy productivity tools that weren't built for the hybrid era of work," Kelly Waldher, Google Workspace VP of marketing wrote in a blog post

"There's no need for a new email address, file conversions, new plug-ins, or desktop software. 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."

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