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Hard on the heels of its disappointing earnings announcement. Google will no longer offer free Google Apps to businesses with more than 10 users.

In an announcement posted on the Google Enterprise Blog, the company included the news in a post describing how it was making its apps “easier to adopt and manage” for small businesses.

While existing business subscribers will be able to run up to 50 users on a free account, all new business sign-ons will have to choose between the existing US$50 per-user annual plan, or a new no-contract US$5 per-user, per-month “flexible plan”.

The service will be billed at the end of each month to eliminate upfront payments, and Google is kindly offering direct debit in eight countries (the US, the UK, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain).

Google says it has also simplified the Google Apps for Business setup wizard, which should allow customers to get started in an hour. ®

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