Google is introducing a new and free workspace package especially for those business users who have previously used services such as Docs, Sheets and Drive separately and without the knowledge of their own IT. For Essentials Starter, users do not have to enter any payment information, the only requirement is a registration via e-mail address. Colleagues or external users can then be invited with just a few clicks. Workspace competes with other all-around happy packages like Microsoft 365.
Not all features on board
In addition to the Office suite and its collaboration functions, Google Meet is also on board, but this is limited: video conferences are limited to up to 100 participants and a length of 60 minutes – direct calls are excluded from this. The free workspace provides 15 GB of storage space for documents per user. Otherwise, the features correspond to the already known Google applications. The interface, which was announced at the same time and copied from Microsoft Teams and Slack, is also not on board.
In its announcement of the Essentials Starter, the provider emphasizes the fact that business users can “simply select their own productivity tools” with the new package and thus “bring modern collaboration into their company”. Another term for self-introduced tools outside of the control of one’s own administration is shadow IT. However, those responsible are confronted with outflowing data, especially with cloud services – and the declared goal is usually more to get this under control again.
Suddenly more tracking
At the same time, Google has announced that it will fundamentally change the “Web & App Activity” option in the Workspace admin console. On the one hand, the provider keeps the search history of all its users separately, so that they are presented with their previous entries and results in the search. The other tracking can be found under the same setting – but with one key difference: Administrators lose central control over it, because users can activate it even if those responsible have previously switched it off in the console.
In addition: With the change, Google switches the search history back on by default, even if this was explicitly not desired in the old settings. The data should under no circumstances be used for advertising purposes and will be deleted after 18 months, Google assures in the associated support document.