Google Apps will no longer allow for free accounts. The company has announced that is will end free registration and focus its efforts on paid business users.

Google started its Apps program to support businesses with 200 users or less, since that time the company has attracted more than 50 million accounts worldwide while reducing the allowed number of users to just 10 per account.

At the time of this weeks announcement Google required users to use their own Google account or pay for a single “for Business” option in its place.

Google Apps No Longer Free

Customers will now be required to a a $50 per user fee for new account access. For that price customers will receive 24/7 phone support with a 99.9 percent uptime guarantee. Google will also provide each account with 25GB inbox support for paying customers.

Google has grandfathered in free accounts that have already been signed up and the company will continue to offer Google Apps for Education at no cost.

The tech giant will also continue to charge $50 per user for its Google Apps for government platform.

In the meantime Google will still be competing against Microsoft’s Windows Live Domains which provides support for up to 500 users with 7GB SkyDrive support, webmail and basic Office web apps. Microsoft’s more inclusive Office 365 Small Business platform costs $72-per-user while a premium option with offline file access is $150.

As cloud computing becomes a more common practice tech firms offering free services will more than likely begin to roll out premium features that keep customers interested and paying. In some cases cloud options have been offered for free with the purchase of other items. For example, Google Chromebooks offer 100GB of Google Drive service free for two-years with any purchase.

Would you be willing to pay for a service that was once offered to the masses at no charge?

[Image via 9to5google]