Google has released a new version of Google Apps called “Team Edition” that at a functional level, is essentially the same as the Basic version of Google Apps. The same word processor, spreadsheet, instant messaging, calendaring, and start page, but no email. What is different is that the “Team Edition” allows people in organizations that have not adopted Google Mail for their enterprise or organizational email system, to use the other Google Applications collaboratively. Not only that, but individuals in the organization can sign up one by one without central IT’s blessing or support. This makes it much easier for ad-hoc groups to use Google Applications without jumping through organizational hoops and bureaucracy.
All users need to do is go to the Google Apps “Team Edition” page, and sign up with their corporate email address. A confirmation email is then sent back to the person’s email address and then they are on the system. Once registered you can see who else from the organization has signed up, and you can begin collaborating right away (apparently I am the first UVic.ca individual to sign up). It looks like Google is hoping that pressure from users will encourage organizations to adopt Google Apps officially, and from Google’s perspective, hopefully adopt the premium paid version.
This Google screen cast gives a few more details.