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Google Apps Leave Beta 116

Posted by Soulskill
from the why-so-soon dept.
Today Google announced that they're removing the "beta" label from Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk. They said, "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." Quoting the NYTimes: "'Obviously we haven't had a consistent set of policies or definitions around beta,' said Matt Glotzbach, a director of product management at Google. Mr. Glotzbach said that different teams at Google had different criteria for what beta meant, and that Google felt a need to standardize those. ... Practically speaking, the change will mean precious little to Gmail's millions of users. But it could help Google's efforts to get the paid version of its package of applications, which includes Gmail, Calendar, Docs and other products, adopted inside big companies."
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Google Apps Leave Beta

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  • Beta (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:27PM (#28609721) Homepage Journal

    Well, duh. Google marks apps as beta so they have no uptime or reliability requirements to the end user. You can't blame businesses for wanting software they've paid for to not have such an inherent disclaimer.

    • Re:Beta (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bemymonkey (1244086) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:41PM (#28609913)

      Wasn't the paid version non-beta all along?

      IIRC only the free versions were marked beta...

      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by TheSpoom (715771) *

        Honestly, having never used the paid versions, I'm not sure. Sorry if that's the case; though since they're based on the same code, I'd then wonder why the free version is marked beta.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by bemymonkey (1244086)

          I think it had something to do with new features only being integrated into the paid version when they'd been thoroughly tested in the free version - or something along those lines.

          Maybe I'm just imagining it, but I think I remember reading something about that a while ago. :)

        • Re:Beta (Score:4, Informative)

          by eldaria (1051866) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:14PM (#28610393) Homepage
          I have used the premium Google apps for a little over a year, and only today the logo had the beta label removed, I were actually reading about it on Engadget, flipped to the tab with my mail and saw that it had beta on the logo, refreshed the page and the beta label was gone.
          • Re:Beta (Score:4, Informative)

            by Zarel (900479) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @04:57PM (#28613839)

            Did you check "Enable pre-release features" or "Next generation" in the Google Apps domain settings? It's my impression that only explicitly enabling beta features like that would cause the "beta" label to appear. If those are unchecked, you should see no "beta" label.

            • by eldaria (1051866)
              I have indeed enabled the Pre-Release features. This could be the reason I had the Beta logo, I would not know. However the beta logo is no more, and I still have that feature enabled. Also I noticed after the logo is gone, you have the option to enable the Beta Logo again, I guess for those who miss the Beta logo.
      • Re:Beta (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:20PM (#28610489)

        >Wasn't the paid version non-beta all along?

        Yeah, and it's reliable. There's really no reason for small and medium businesses to run their own mail servers anymore.

        • Re:Beta (Score:5, Funny)

          by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:29PM (#28610633) Journal

          Thanks for sharing your opinion, Sergey.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Lucky75 (1265142)
          You mean except for privacy concerns?
          • Businesses generally don't have privacy concerns. They have concerns over liability arising from privacy problems. Who wouldn't want to shift that liability over to a bigger corporation with more privacy expertise and more lawyers?
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by hesiod (111176)

              I congratulate you for the immense work you must have put in to achieve such an astounding level of ignorance. Of course businesses have privacy concerns! That's why big corps will pay a shitload of money to really good IT people to keep their systems secure, instead of relying on the honesty unknown people at some other company over which they have no (or little, at least) control. The best way for them to mitigate the risk of liability would be to keep all that data off the freaking Internet, and on th

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by maxume (22995)

            If they aren't already encrypting their mail, using Google isn't really changing anything.

            • by skarphace (812333)

              If they aren't already encrypting their mail, using Google isn't really changing anything.

              What company out there does this on a regular basis? And you know, CIA and NSA don't count.

              Implementing PGP/GPG organization wide seems almost impossible to me. Can I expect my users to generate keys, make sure they have revocation keys, and submit them to a key server?

              • by maxume (22995)

                My first comment was a little quick, internal communications are more private if they are on an internal server, but external communications...

                Even in the case of internal communications, I bet there are lots of paranoid (especially smaller) companies that don't know that Larry is emailing stuff home to work on, or whatever.

            • "If they aren't already encrypting their mail, using Google isn't really changing anything."

              Also, if they are encrypting their E-Mail, Google isn't really changing anything. It is a case of "you are not damned if you do,but you may well be damned if you don't"

          • For most businesses, using https is enough.

            Plus the ability to sync everything with your blackberry sorta outweighs alot of other issues.

            Now if only they could get thunderbird more user-friendly with a calendar app that was better integrated into the program, then I feel that more people would be switching alot of their stuff instead of paying for Office 2007 and an Exchange server.

            Thank god for TechSoup.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          your account can get shutdown any minute, randomly, and good luck on trying to retrieve it:
          http://corfield.org/blog/index.cfm/do/blog.entry/entry/Gmail_Account_Disabled
          read all the replies, not as lucky as a high profile blogger i guess.

        • by mortonda (5175)

          I run my own personal mail server ( on a small budget too), and its availability has exceeded google's. I think there's plenty of room for folks to run their own mail servers, if they want better control or privacy...

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by raddan (519638) *
      Paying for software that comes with guarantees (uptime other SLAs) also ensures that an IT department can pass the buck when the thing stops working. This is a big factor in IT purchasing decisions, and the reason why lots of IT folks pay the exorbitant costs for support contracts, when most of the time, you really could just stock the parts or run the thing yourself, often at a considerable discount.
      • by Daengbo (523424)

        The Standard version's ToS had prominent "This is beta software and comes with no guarantees" clauses. The premium version has service guarantees, liability, and no beta clause.

    • True enough. Of course, every other software company just hides their liability disclaimers in the EULA. That's ever so much more honest.

      • But is it honest to make those damn things As Difficult To Read As Possible? Let's be clear, there's the legal rights claimed and supposed, and then there's the blatent attempt to obscure as much intent as possible by hiding it on hard to navigate to pages, (for example a google telephone number maybe, or at least the process to request some kind of verbal reply, for the press perhaps, I don't know), or the classic microtype, tiny scrolling window, etc., etc. etc.

        Ads are also readable, hard to ignore in-fac

        • I was being snarky. Burying a liability disclaimer in a EULA is less honest than sticking a Beta label on your product, even if it is legal.

    • by JCZwart (1585673)
      Except they're free... And who would pay good money for a beta anyway, sounds like stupidity to me.

      No, free beta apps that do their jobs well enough are for people like you and me, people that think it's cool to have their agendas online.

      Business users use Outlook and/or Exchange. However, these 'casual users' of free beta apps DO provide valuable input - and they probably won't be abandoning their free beta apps as well, since those might not be bug-free yet, but ARE still in development - and, well, f
    • I read the summary and then hit ctrl-tab to go to my Gmail tab, which had been open for about 4 hours. It still said beta by the logo. I hit ctrl-r to reload and the beta was gone! Easiest upgrade ever.
  • wtf (Score:4, Insightful)

    by trybywrench (584843) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:32PM (#28609803)
    If they don't have a definition for "beta" then why was it there in the first place?
    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Funny)

      by gnick (1211984) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:44PM (#28609951) Homepage

      They have always had a definition.

      The problem was that it was just a beta version. They'll be unveiling the 'Release' definition shortly.

      • I think you'll find they'll be unveiling the Release Candidate shortly.
        • by lptport1 (640159)

          Sounds like people have acclimated to Microsoft retail releases being more like public betas.

          If Google made non-business users pay for Apps, would people be more tolerant of "beta testing"?

    • Re:wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:45PM (#28609963) Homepage

      That's a good question, but if you think about it, it's pretty understandable. If you remember, Gmail used to by an invite-only thing that they were testing. When each of these services were first introduced, they were unstable (both in terms of reliability and the unpredictability of changes) enough to warrant the "beta" tag.

      So they probably had a vague and intuitive notion of what "beta" meant to them. However, if you don't have a clear and specific definition of "beta", then there will never be a moment when it clearly makes sense to drop the label.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        But the press release says they lifted the beta term for marketing reasons, meaning no new standard of functionality or reliability has been met. So as far as anyone knows, they will always be beta. Their PR certainly still is. They should have made some visual changes to denote a significant upgrade. I guess their spin department is still in alpha.
        • by Daengbo (523424)

          They've also changed the way they handle new features. They no longer roll out new features to the interface: they put them in Labs for six months first.

          The standard interface really has been out of beta for a while. Labs is the new beta.

        • by adolf (21054)

          I guess their spin department is still in alpha.

          And exactly why might this be a problem for us, the users?

          Are you really, truly, honestly proposing that a change from "beta" to "other" should have included unrelated and meaningless changes?

          If so: what's wrong with you?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by fishbowl (7759)

      >If they don't have a definition for "beta" then why was it there in the first place?

      They don't need a definition. If you were going to sue Google, they'd be able to say "Not only did it have no warranty, but it was also marked 'beta' which is common vernacular in the software industry for 'in testing' or 'if it breaks you get both pieces.'"

      It would not be hard to get an expert witness to say that to a judge. I would.

      • by Tanktalus (794810)

        Right, but before you said anything to the judge, you'd have to start with some Sponsored Statements before you could get to saying anything actually on topic, and the order of what you actually did say would be determined by a proprietary weighting algorithm that stood a good chance of putting some squatter information prior to your main point.

    • Also, why would I trust a company, that does not even know if its products are still beta, or no, or what it means, or anything?

      Has there been a bug tracker site? Was it linked from inside the program? Did no new bug report come in for 3 months? Did they fix all the bugs in the tracker? (Without the feature requests and bugs depending on them.)
      I haven't seen any of those. So to me it still is beta, it always will be (Microsoft style), and the only reason it is relabeled, is for money reasons (again Microsof

    • by mcgrew (92797)

      Of COURSE they have a definition of Beta - Beta is commonly used.

      "Alpha" is an in-house test of software. "Beta" is test software released "out of the shop", so Google's "beta" was apt.

      I don't think you can have "alpha" or "beta" to noncommercial software. Ubantu can have a beta, but not Linux. Then again, maybe Google was/is taking a poke at Microsoft, who is notorious for releasing buggy yet still expensive software. Microsoft only seems to get it right after a long time; Excel is a good example, a fine s

    • by log1385 (1199377)
      Oh, but they do have a definition.

      Beta (bay'-tuh) n. 1. A tag that doesn't fit for large enterprises: "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." 2. Something that looks cool: "for those who still like the look of "beta", we've made it easy to re-enable the beta label for Gmail from the Labs tab under Settings."
  • by C_Kode (102755) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:32PM (#28609805) Journal

    We use Google Apps for business purposes, but selectively. It just doesn't work for all my documents. By the term "all", I mean most. We basically use it to keep track of certain project details among other things, but not for any of our real documents.

    • by bogaboga (793279)

      I am curious to know how satisfied or otherwise you are with Google Docs. In my case, I find that this particular application needs more love from Google.

      In addition, I would love to have GMail display the calendar in much the same way as YahooMail does. It's sweet to see important dates scroll by at the bottom as you type an email in Yahoo.

      • by eldaria (1051866)
        Not sure about the free edition, and not sure when this was enabled. I noticed a new link on top called Lab, in there are a bunch of Tweaks where you can enable different features. One of them is to have a widget with your calendar, another one I really like is that you can change the placement of how many unread messages you have, so instead of domain.com.Main - Inbox (20) - user@domain.com" you get "Inbox (20) - user@domain.com - domain.comMail., this way you can see how many mail you have on a firefox ta
    • Google Mail and Calendar are great for small businesses. I expect Google Voice to be a game changer as well. Most small businesses have businessname@yahoo.com but Google Mail allows you to have person@businessname.com with the ease of Gmail.

  • in Beta Gold.
  • VICTORY, at last I can start to use Gmail!
  • Today is a good day (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:36PM (#28609859)
    So many things today I didn't see coming!
    -We finally get a straight answer from Microsoft on C#, in favour of OSS
    -Russia and the US agree to disarm
    -Microsoft admits there's a security flaw in ActiveX
    -VLC reaches 1.0
    -Google's stuff gets out of Beta
    Either I need to pay more attention, or drop my cynicism. I guess I kind of expected them to happen, just not for a while yet.
  • holy shit! (Score:4, Funny)

    by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:40PM (#28609905)

    I haven't been this surprised since Amazon turned a profit.

  • Nooooo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by bomanbot (980297) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:43PM (#28609947)
    This is just great. Google Mail is finally out of Beta. Duke Nukem Forever is cancelled. If finally there is a year of Linux on the Desktop, only an unfinished GNU Hurd stands between us and the Apocalypse... ;-)
  • I just hit Shift-Refresh and the "BETA" suffix is no longer there on Gmail.

  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:45PM (#28609961)
    The problem is, there are two different definitions of "stable" one is, the application doesn't crash or have lots of downtime, the other is the application doesn't change. Gmail was stable by the first and most common definition, however I don't think Google imagined Gmail was stable by the second definition. However, a few years later, it became clear that Gmail was more or less stable by both definitions.
    • by Bigby (659157)

      A "stable" medical device is far more stable than a "stable" website. It is a matter of reaching the metrics stated in the system availability requirements.

  • Docs and Android (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Speare (84249) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @12:47PM (#28609991) Homepage Journal

    Glad to see they're out of beta. So, when can I create, edit, view and share documents on Google Docs from my Google G1 Android phone? So far, you can edit and view spreadsheets (to a limited extent) but you can't create them, nor use any of the other doc types.

  • Google mail was working fairly well for a long time while flanked with a Beta label. Amusingly, Google translation being probably at its best does not have any "Beta" label - while the quality of the translations (I'm interested in the Japanese to English translations) is so desperately poor that I usually have to do a manual lengthy kanji by kanji research all the time. Translation is certainly the least of Google worries - it should deserve a big Beta somewhere (or even Alpha).
  • Is a pig flying!

    By the time you finally accepted the fact that the full name of the product wasnt "Gmail", but "Gmail Beta", they changed the rules, say that all was a joke, and that the real name was all the time Gmail, that was in beta stage.
  • 100 million (Score:5, Informative)

    by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:00PM (#28610195) Journal
    Gmail has 100 million users and has been around over five years [wikipedia.org]. Apps has 1.75 million. So, yes, about damn time.
  • by grantham (49250) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:01PM (#28610211) Homepage

    They've give you the option to put your own version of Gmail back into beta, you know, if you're into that sort of thing:
    http://gmailblog.blogspot.com/2009/07/gmail-leaves-beta-launches-back-to-beta.html [blogspot.com]

  • by sootman (158191) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @01:16PM (#28610427) Homepage Journal

    The bad news: they're all entering 'Gamma'

  • Has anyone got their invite? Are they opening it up now? For the record, I put in for my invite April of last year.
  • Simple Marketing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by malevolentjelly (1057140) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @02:23PM (#28611505) Journal

    Calling Google Apps "Beta" was likely a pragmatic move on the front of both marketing to bleeding edge internet enthusiasts who are addicted to novelty and engineering in limiting the expectations and liability of google products. They could maintain beta quality products and code and levels of support as long as they kept the beta moniker.

    However, I feel that the web's incestuous advertising scheme is beginning to dry up in these times of economic peril, so google needs to go for harder sources of money, like enterprises. Now they're no longer circumventing Microsoft in the market but facing them head to head for a position in the enterprise. Microsoft has as strong position in this market, so they have a certain legacy and stability, which enterprises appreciate.

    The first step for Google in combating this will be the simple rebranding of their products to give the semblance of maturity. In reality, any recent changes to the code are minimal to superficial, so this is merely a marketing maneuver and says nothing about the practical roles of beta and gold software in software engineering. It's a welcome change, but it is yet to be seen whether google has the attention span to maintain stable enterprise products. Offering a consistent platform will also open them up to the sort of demonization that Microsoft has faced up until now, as expectations may rise above what they can deliver.

    In short, Google is growing up.

  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @02:27PM (#28611569) Homepage
    "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."

    That's what beta means, you idiot! It means it's in the trial phase! You mean I've been right all along, and the beta tag was just an excuse to eliminate complaints? Well color me shocked. The attitude has got a whiff of evil about it.

  • by Julie188 (991243) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @02:46PM (#28611909)
    Seeking Alpha [seekingalpha.com] says that Google may be killing off the free "Standard" edition now that Apps is no longer beta. "The current sign up page makes no mention of the previously free Standard edition." That would leave only the Education version as the freebie.

    Julie
    --
    Take a gander at Network World's Google Subnet [networkworld.com]
    Google news for the enterprise.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:01PM (#28612111)

      This is not true. From the Google official blog [blogspot.com]:

      We've heard some questions about why the link to Google Apps Standard Edition disappeared from the Enterprise Apps home page, so we wanted to share the answer. As we explored a few design changes to the page, the link to Standard Edition was inadvertently dropped, although the free version of Apps was, as always, available here. We've put the link back where it belongs so that it's easy to find.

      We have no intention of eliminating Standard Edition, and we apologize for any confusion.

    • It's still there, it's just moved on the page. Under the big "Try the 30 Day Trial" button is the "Or explore Google Apps Standard", which does have a sign up page.

      http://www.google.com/a/cpanel/domain/new [google.com]

    • by curunir (98273) *

      I know it's not ending, but I would be fine with them ending it so long as they created a price tier between $0 and $50 per user per year. Even if they didn't drop the free version, I'd be willing to pay for a few extra features. If I could pay $50 per year for specific users, I'd probably go for it for my own account and those of my immediate family. But I've got about 30 friends who I've given email accounts to and there's no way I'm paying $1500/year.

      I think there's a real opportunity for them to make a

  • by v(*_*)vvvv (233078) on Tuesday July 07, 2009 @03:06PM (#28612181)

    that aren't keen to run their business on software that sounds like it's still in the trial phase.

    This is the precise moment the last developer with a say in business, died at google. May they rest in peace.

    The beta label issue has been around about as long as gmail itself, and every time they were asked about it, the answer was always the same: it's trial software. Because, IT WAS, and STILL IS.

    Now we have google announcing on their own their graduation from beta, but for all the wrong reasons. The marketing heads had to make it known that they won. They should have just said, "it is now stable software." But no, that is what a responsible developer would say. They basically denounced the beta label being there in the first place, giving strategic reasons, and not technical ones. The worst part? If they had known better, they would have still pretended to be responsible developers.

    They are idiots, and they are taking over. If I had google stock, I would sell it right about... NOW.

  • Maybe they want to start distinguishing their services from Microsoft's Bing? "Our products are stable, not like that Bing thing; it's still in beta"

  • Serious professionals do not use "@gmail.com" email addresses.

  • They should have fixed the following before claiming non-beta status:

    1) The inability to select text in the chat window that is further down (or up) the window (if you need to scroll, you're screwed because the damned selection disappears)

    2) The irritating bug where if someone happens to send you a message while you're editing your own message, the cursor inexplicably jumps to the end of your message, causing profanities to profusely issue from one's mouth.

    3) Like 2) above except, as an added bonus

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