Well, that didn’t take long. Just one week after Microsoft unleashed a widespread public beta of Office 365, Google announces that it is moving Google Apps to a monthly pricing scheme … Just like Office 365. Coincidence?

We’ve spoken with many of our more than three million customers about how we can better serve them. Small businesses in particular often ask us to make Apps easier to adopt and manage. Today we’re announcing several upcoming changes designed to address those requests.

New flexible billing options

First, for customers who sign up online we’re adding the Flexible Plan, a new $5 per user per month pricing option which requires no contractual commitment – one of the most flexible plans in the industry today. With this plan, businesses can add or remove users as necessary and will automatically be billed for the proper amount. We’ll continue to offer the current pricing option – $50 per user per year with a one-year commitment – as the Annual Plan.

And then there’s this:

Change to Google Apps user limit

Starting on May 10, new organizations (excluding schools and non-profits) with more than 10 users will need to sign up for our paid service, Google Apps for Business, which offers valuable features designed for businesses – customer support, more generous storage limits, a 99.9% SLA, and more. This change will allow us to deliver on the expectations of our small business customers and invest in new features that will help them succeed.

Microsoft’s small business Office 365 offering, which costs $6 per user per month, works with up to 25 users, by the way.