Google has finally made the announcement its Apps users have been waiting for - full and unexpurgated access to all Google services and features.
Google Apps is the company's co-branding service, which allows groups and businesses to customise Google's web apps in a variety of ways - most commonly by using their own domain name. It's great for collaboration, allowing a company to easily set up a shared calendar, e-mail system, and Google Docs repository.
It's split into four categories: Google Apps, which is free for up to 50 users; Google Apps for Business which comes with a 99.9 per cent uptime guarantee and telephone support for $50 per user per year; Google Apps for Government, which is FISMA certified for the US market and very much 'price on application'; and Google Apps for Education, a free version of Google Apps for Business for schools, universities, and non-profit organisations.
All four categories share a similar drawback, however: they only allow access to a small subset of Google's overall services. If an account is upgraded to Google Apps, it immediately loses access to things such as Google Reader, Google Voice, Blogger, and even Google's advertising service AdWords - leaving many users juggling two different accounts in order to get the full use out of Google's multifarious offerings.
Now, however, those dark days are at an end: the company has officially announced that all new Google Apps accounts will have complete access to all Google services, with administrators able to switch access to individual features on and off at will for different users in the control panel.
Users with existing accounts can enable access to whatever they need via the control panel, too - allowing business to migrate to the new, feature-rich version at their own pace. Alternatively, and possibly more realistically, to fail to realise anything has changed and to carry on regardless.
There is a caveat with the new, expanded access however: for paying users, telephone support won't cover anything but the base Google Apps features: Gmail, Google Talk, Groups, Calendar, Docs, Sites, and Video for Business.
More details are available on the official Google Apps page.