It almost sounds like a joke, but it’s true enough. Ever since Gmail was instituted in April of 2004 with the invitation scheme, it and many other of Google’s Apps have been wearing the beta tag. At long last, however, Google’s ripping it off like a bandage.That ripping-off shouldn’t be too painful, though, as the bandage of beta has been stuck there for so long that it’s gotten soggy and lost its adhesive power. At any rate, though nothing glaring seems to have changed overnight, Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Talk– personal and enterprise versions– all will be loosing the little “beta” underneath the logo.
Why, though? These products have remained in beta for years even though they exceeded standards of fucntionality most people define as “ready for final release.” According to the Google Blog, the over 1.75 million businesses who lay some of their communications foundations on Google Apps (including Google itself) probably aren’t too excited to be using software that’s still in a beta stage– it might seem less professional, and when you’ve your daily bread on the line, “beta” just doesn’t sound very reliable. Google has gone ahead and brought these applications up to a certain standard (well above an even 1.0 tag, in my opinion), and deployed the non-beta result to the world. Even though the beta tag hasn’t phased these 1.75 million businesses, I imagine a great deal more of them have been interested in Google Apps and will begin to look into using them soon.
Some may find that their beta icons are still affixed. It seems that Google’s rolling out the removal of the beta tag instead of doing at all at once just as they do with new features on the apps. However, some of us have become a little attached to that cute little beta sticker, and Google is no company to not provide advanced comforts, so they’ve added a new Labs feature in Gmail that “soothes the soul by putting the familiar beta sticker back on the Gmail logo.”
The beta’s officially over, but this doesn’t mean that Google won’t periodically add new and more functional features. Most of the millions who utilize Google’s applications probably won’t even notice as things will go on as they have for the past several years. All I can say is: kudos to Google. You’re all grown up.