I have been an avid Google Apps user for a while now, and have even blogged about it in the past. I use Google Apps for hosting my personal Bauer-Power email even. Though they have made it harder to find on their page, Google is still making a free version of Google Apps called Google Apps Standard Edition so you can take advantage of that too. Overall, I have been very happy with the service… Until now!
You see, on May 13th I received an email stating that they are doing away with the Google Start page service do to requests to make it more like iGoogle. Their response? Do away with it altogether, and replace it with iGoogle. What does that mean for people like me who use it? All my customizations go away! Nice! For you Bauer-Puntu users you will notice that the default home page in Firefox was my Google Apps Start page, not anymore. My custom start page is now history!
Here is the email from the Google Apps team:
We’re sharing some news about changes coming in response to many customers who would like the Start Page to work more like the full iGoogle.com experience.
On July 1, 2010, the Start Page will automatically be converted to iGoogle. The Start Page gadgets your users have configured will be migrated to iGoogle pages, after which users can modify their iGoogle gadgets, tabs and themes. Your Start Page web address will automatically redirect your users to iGoogle.
No further action is required on your part, but you can convert your Google Apps Start Page to the full iGoogle experience before the automatic migration takes place by opting in from the control panel. Alternatively, if you would like to retain more control over the user experience, you can consider creating a new User Start Page in Google Sites (http://goo.gl/R4uH), which allows for locked content and control over available gadgets.
We hope this upgrade to iGoogle will give your users a better way to personalize, customize and centralize the information that’s most important to them. If you think they would benefit from advance notice about this change, please communicate to them as desired.
The Google Apps Team
As the email above states, the change will go into effect on July 1st, however you can make the change right away if you wish. I decided not to prolong the inevitable, so I made the change, then also changed DNS for start.bauer-power.net to point to my FTP server where I configured a new Apache site for it. It is a lot simpler than the old Bauer-Power Start page, but it’s better than a non-custom iGoogle page!
What ticks me off the most is that their reasoning is utter bull crap. Google Apps Start was exactly like iGoogle already, and all the iGoogle widgets worked on it. The only thing was you could customize it. No, this is a marketing/branding move on Google’s part. Plain and simple! Well I say, damn the man!
What is your take on it? Are you happy about the move? Let me know in the comments.