Automatically activated for all G Suite enterprise customers on Wednesday, Google's new Drive File Stream application allows users to directly access cloud-based documents via their desktop devices. The launch means the beginning of the end for the PC- and Mac-based desktop Google Drive app.

Starting Dec. 11, Google said it will no longer support the Google Drive for Mac/PC desktop app, now officially deprecated. The client is set to shut down completely on March 12 of next year.

Consumers who have been using the desktop version of Google Drive will have a different alternative for managing cloud-based files on their Macs or PCs: Backup and Sync. Made available to most users back in July, Backup and Sync essentially combines the old desktop version of Google Drive with the desktop image uploader Google Photos. It's also available to enterprise customers that choose not to use Drive File Stream (pictured here).

Bye to File Syncing, Disk Space Concerns

"Launched to early adopters in March, Drive File Stream is a new desktop application that allows you to quickly access all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your computer, meaning you use almost none of your hard drive space and spend less time waiting for files to sync," Google said Wednesday in a post on its G Suite blog. "Say goodbye to time-consuming file syncing and any concerns about disk space. With Drive File Stream, all your files are always ready for you and your colleagues."

While Drive File Stream was activated this week, the full application won't become generally available until Sept. 26, Google said. The company added that enterprise customers will see Drive File Stream download links in their current Drive interfaces only if they've already enabled that capability in either Backup and Sync or Drive for Mac/PC.

As Google transitions users to either Drive File Stream or Backup and Sync, current Drive for Mac/PC users could start seeing messages in October warning them that the old desktop client is being phased out. At the same time, users who run both Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync will see prompts telling them to save disk space by putting a stop to syncing My Drive with Backup and Sync.

Improved G Suite Mobile App Management

For users facing a choice between Drive File Stream or Backup and Sync, Google offers a side-by-side comparison on its G Suite administrator site.

Backup and Sync, for example, does not provide users with access to files in Team Drives or support streaming files on demand. Backup and Sync also doesn't let users choose an option of syncing only specific files in My Drive. Like the previous Google Drive for Mac/PC, Backup and Sync provides folder-like access to Google Drive via a user's hard drive.

Drive File Stream, on the other hand, doesn't allow users to sync other folders such as Document or Desktop. Users are able to access Drive File Stream via their devices just like any other local or network drive.

Google yesterday also announced a G Suite update that gives administrators of paid business or enterprise services greater control over mobile app management.

"We know that companies, especially large enterprises, are organized in complex ways, and different employees need different things," Google said in a G Suite blog post yesterday. Google said the latest update enables administrators to "among other things, whitelist certain apps for their executive team and others for their marketing org, or prohibit their sales team from disabling specific apps. Previously, admins could only do these things for an entire domain."