Google Apps customers who also wanted to use Google Apps Vault archiving services have been out of luck in the past, since the service was only available to new users.
That's changed now that Google has unveiled the Apps Vault services for existing Apps and Apps for Education customers. The Apps Vault offering debuted in March.
"Since we launched Google Apps Vault, many businesses have adopted it to archive, retain and manage business critical information," Jerry Hong, product manager for Google Enterprise, wrote in a Dec. 18 post on the Google Enterprise Blog. "Until now, Vault was available only to new and recent Google Apps customers. Starting today, Vault is available to existing Apps customers that purchased Google Apps online, directly from Google. Vault is also now available to Google Apps for Education customers. "
Customers use Google Apps Vault to protect their organizations from lawsuits by enabling organizations to find and preserve email messages that may be relevant to a particular lawsuit, wrote Hong. "That saves time, effort, and costs associated with responding to litigation or other investigations. Google Apps Vault can also help if an employee leaves abruptly and the organization needs to understand the status of the employee's projects, Vault will help find the needed information. For educational institutions, Google Apps Vault can help in responding to open records requests."
The Vault service can be added to an existing Apps account for $5 per user per month if the account was opened directly with Google. For customers that purchased Google Apps from a reseller prior to Aug. 1, Google is working on a procedure to enable the online addition of the Vault services. The process will be announced that when it's ready, according to Google.
Earlier in December, Google announced that it is ending the free version of its Google Apps for Business online suite after deciding that most business users have been quickly outgrowing it and signing up for paid accounts that offer additional services.
The move comes seven years after Google first began offering the free Google Apps services.
The paid Google Apps for Business accounts began in 2007 when Google started charging $50 per user annually, a fee that provided larger inbox mail storage, access to Google APIs to allow businesses to build custom apps and other extra services. Google also added apps versions specifically aimed at governments, universities and schools.
All businesses that now want to use Google Apps for Business will have to pay for the service, but they will get expanded services, including 24/7 phone support for any issue, a 25GB inbox and a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee with no scheduled downtime.
The changes, however, won't affect existing business users, who will be permitted to keep using their limited-capacity accounts in the future.
Google Apps for Education continues to be available as a free service for schools and universities.
In October, Google added some key benefits—phone and email support—for paying customers of its Google Apps services when they are accessed through Google's Chrome Web browser. That means that Google Apps for Business, Education and Government customers can get direct support on Chrome installation, functionality, security, browser policy settings and Google Apps interoperability for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. Customers with free Google Apps accounts are not eligible for phone or email support but can continue to use Google's free online help services and forums.
In September, Google announced that Google Apps users won't be able to access the office apps suite using Microsoft's older Internet Explorer 8 browser after Nov. 14. Instead, they will have to upgrade to a newer IE browser under its continuing strategy to keep its products up-to-date and working seamlessly with the latest evolving features in newer Web browsers.
The Google Apps policy of supporting only the latest browsers began in June 2011 as big changes were beginning to arrive from new Web standards, such as HTML5.
The new changes mean that users who are still running older browsers and even older computer operating systems will have to make decisions on what to do if they want to continue to use Google Apps.
For users who are still running Windows XP machines, IE8 is the last of Microsoft's Internet Explorer browsers that will run on the soon-to-be-retired operating systems. IE9 and the upcoming IE10 weren't built to operate on XP. That means that Windows XP users—and there are still plenty of them out there—will have to upgrade their operating systems if they want to keep using Google Apps.