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(Pocket-lint) - Google has ditched its free Google Apps offering to companies with 10 or fewer users, as it looks to generate cash from the thousands of businesses around the world using the email, calendar, and office applications provided by the company.

It's a move that shows Google is starting to look beyond advertising revenues to generate cash, and one that more closely follows Microsoft business model.


Sundar Pichai, Google's senior vice-president in charge of Google Apps, told The Wall Street Journal: "Google wants to provide small businesses that use the free version of the software with dedicated customer support - something only paying customers currently get.

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"We're not serving them well," he said of the free users.

Thankfully, Pichai said those who already use the free version will continue to get it free, but those just signing up for the service will have to pay.

Previously firms with more than 10 users have had to pay £35 per person per year for the service. Before 2011 only companies with more than 50 users had to pay.

The WSJ reports that Google generates around $1bn from its Google Apps division from around 5 million businesses, although notes that most of those businesses have fewer than 10 users and therefore don't pay. In total, Google has said more than 40 million people use the free and paid versions of Google Apps.

Writing by Stuart Miles.