I’ve been using Google Apps to host my mail ever since Google Apps was launched. In fact, my domain account is provisioned for up to 500 users.

Soon enough, Google Apps Premium was launched with additional exclusive features, tailored to enterprise needs. In effect, Google is tapping their free users to alpha-test Google Apps for their enterprise customers.

I don’t mind doing that.

But recently, Google started streamlining and shutting down services that are not profit maximising. The warning signs are clear, and then just last week, Google announced that Google Apps (free edition) has been discontinued and no new signups will be offered. Current accounts are unaffected but the writing is on the wall.

I intensified by search for a free or affordable alternative for a hosted, custom domain, email solution.

Then today, one of the most useful features offered by Google Apps and Gmail, Google Sync, is slated to be discontinued on 30 January, 2013.

Going forward, I believe Google will begin removing features from the free offering, either pushing users onto their Premier ($50/user/year) offering, or forcing them off the platform entirely.

Fortunately, Microsoft now has slightly more affordable option available in the form of Exchange Online, including a free option at Live Mail.

As such, I’m now considering the various options available and formulating a plan before I am forced to migrate urgently.