Google unveils a new Workspace tier for free, with one big omission

Google Workspace Hero
Google Workspace Hero (Image credit: Nick Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has announced Workspace Essentials Starter edition, a free tier that excludes Gmail.
  • The new tier provides access to Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Chat, Drive, and Meet.
  • However, users must sign up using their existing email address and cloud storage is limited to 15GB.

Google wants to bring more enterprise users to Workspace, including those who are reluctant to part ways with their existing email address. The search giant has announced Workspace Essentials Starter edition, which provides access to basic productivity tools for free.

The new plan costs nothing at all and doesn't include a free trial. You'll have access to basic Workspace services including Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Chat, Drive, and Meet in order to collaborate with colleagues.

However, the big catch is the lack of access to Gmail. That's understandable seeing as the new tier is targeted at business users that already use a legacy system. They can use their existing work email accounts to sign up.

Like all free personal accounts, though, cloud storage is capped at 15GB, a meager space for large media files. In addition, an Essentials Starter team can only have up to 25 members, although there's no limit to how many teams within an organization can sign up. Another trade-off you'll have to embrace is the lack of Workspace support.

Google introduced the new free tier after announcing that it is pulling the plug on the legacy G Suite free edition completely in July. However, the new plan doesn't seem to fill the void left by the impending shutdown of the free subscription.

The Mountain View-based tech giant says "Essentials Starter is rolling out over a multiple-week period and might not be available in some regions until mid-February, 2022." That said, if you can't live with those compromises, Google provides an easy way to upgrade to the Business Starter plan, which costs $6 per month per user.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.