What just happened? When Google launched its "Google Apps" productivity and collaboration toolset in 2006, it offered the base tier of its service for free. That lasted for six years, but any account created until then would continue to work at no cost. Now, ten years later, Google is changing the account terms.
When Google announced Google Workspace, many customers migrated their plans to the new service. However, this change hasn't affected G Suite legacy users until now.
The software company published a support page at its help center advising G Suite free users to upgrade to a paid edition by May 2022. If customers don't upgrade to a new tier themselves, Google will do it automatically starting May 1st, 2022, based on the services used, setting them in the Flexible plan.
Whether manually upgraded by the customer or automatically, Google will not charge users until July 1st, 2022. After that, Google will suspend any accounts that haven't set up payment information. If Google does not receive a payment within 60 days of the suspension, core services like Gmail, Calendar, and Meet will be disabled. Services such as YouTube and Google Photos will still work.
If you're a free G Suite legacy user and want to keep using your account, it might be worth knowing what plan options you have. The cheapest plan, Business Starter, goes for $6/month. Then, there's Business Standard, which costs $12/month, and Business Plus for $18/month.
Alternatively, Workspace Individual is also an option for $9.99 but doesn't include a custom email address. Companies that want more flexibility can choose the Enterprise plan, a customized service that varies in price depending on which features are needed.
G Suite legacy users are eligible for 12-month discount options on some of these plans, which might be enough to convince some to keep their data with Google.