google groups logoGoogle is unveiling a new version of its Google Groups service, one that’s designed specifically for business use.

For those of you who haven’t tried them, a Google Group is basically an email list. The existing service is meant for casual users, though it’s also included as part of Google Apps, the company’s bundle of web-based office tools. (We’ve actually created a number of Groups for communicating within VentureBeat.)

Google improved Groups recently by adding the ability to share Docs, Calendars, and more with a group, rather than individual email addresses. And now the company has added a couple of major features to help Groups meet the needs of large companies and organizations:

  • Searchable archives — If a team member wants to revisit how a particular decision was made or how a particular conversation proceeded, they can find the full records in this archive.
  • User-managed groups — At a large company, an IT administrator may not have time to manage each and every group, so now they can offload that responsibility onto other group members. The IT manager retains control of the group’s policies, but a department head, for example, could add and remove names from the department mailing list.

Besides the new features, Apps Product manager Rajen Sheth said Google has been making “tremendous” improvements to Groups’ infrastructure over the past year, so it should work more quickly and reliably.

Google said the new version of Groups is available as part of Premier Edition (which costs $50 per user per year) and Education Edition (which is offered to educational organizations like universities). It’s not part of the free standard edition. Apps Product Manager Rajen Sheth said that’s because the new features aren’t really built for the small businesses using the free version.

“What we’re seeing is, the demand for this is essentially in larger organizations,” he said.

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