Though Google is making light of their use of the word ‘beta’, they do admit to over extending the ‘beta’ length on their products. For most of us the word ‘beta’ means test version to iron out bugs. Normally ‘beta’ software becomes RTM software once the testing completes. But for Google they have some products that have been in ‘beta’ for five years.
According to their recent blog posting they state that:
We’re often asked why so many Google applications seem to be perpetually in beta. For example, Gmail has worn the beta tag more than five years. We realize this situation puzzles some people, particularly those who subscribe to the traditional definition of “beta” software as not being yet ready for prime time.
Ever since we launched the Google Apps suite for businesses two years ago, it’s had a service level agreement, 24/7 support, and has met or exceeded all the other standards of non-beta software. More than 1.75 million companies around the world run their business on Google Apps, including Google. We’ve come to appreciate that the beta tag just doesn’t fit for large enterprises that aren’t keen to run their business on software that sounds like it’s still in the trial phase. So we’ve focused our efforts on reaching our high bar for taking products out of beta, and all the applications in the Apps suite have now met that mark.
Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk — both enterprise and consumer versions — are now out of beta. “Beta” will be removed from the product logos today, but we’ll continue to innovate and improve upon the applications whether or not there’s a small “beta” beneath the logo. Indeed, today we’re also announcing some other Google Apps features that we think will appeal to large enterprises: mail delegation, mail retention and ongoing enhancements to Apps reliability.
Now aren’t excited?