Javalot Jive

Jul 8, 2009

Glory Hallelujah! Gmail Leaves Beta!

Gmail set us free!
Sweet lord it's true, Gmail has dropped the beta after five long years.

We get asked all the time why Google keeps its products in beta for so long. And Gmail, five years after launch, is consistently a subject of this questioning, even of jokes."

Alas, no more jokes, and more than likely a whole lot more business customers.

Why wait so long?
Getting things right is something Google, Inc. has been doing quite a while, and very well at that. Getting something right takes time, and in over five years Google has not only honed Gmail, but added great features: voice and video chat, mobile features, and advanced POP and IMAP controls to name a few.

Is Gmail a "finished" product now?
Really, is anything on the web finished? Of course Gmail isn't done. Google intends to keep adding to and improving Gmail.

Gmail isn't the only Google, Inc. product coming out of "beta". Calendar, Docs and Talk are now also out of beta.

So, why drop the "beta"?
Google, Inc. does admit that by dropping the beta from it's Apps suite, the products become more appealing to business customers.

Google, Inc. says it has approximately 1.75 billion businesses using Google Apps, yet the company will not say how many are paying customers.

The premier edition Google Apps suite sells for $50 per user to business customers, who get added features including offline access and 24/7 customer support. The word 'beta' doesn't sound or look too solid to businesses needing stable apps. In short, "beta" scared them off.

"Many of the companies that have looked in depth at the apps have seen that they are feature complete," Rajen Sheth, a Google senior product manager, said in an interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday. "But there is a kind of perception thing, and in many cases that stops companies in their tracks from even looking at it."

Google announced two new Gmail features it will roll out to premier business customers over the next few weeks. One of which allows administrative assistants to send e-mail on others' behalf, while the other lets companies automatically purge old e-mails after a certain period of time.

The company will also begin storing business-grade e-mails at two data centers simultaneously, reducing the likelihood of downtime. "Reducing downtime" is the talk that companies love to hear.

But, I lik'a beta...
Now, for those of us who aren't administrative assistants or execs worried about downtime, but are so used to seeing that little word in gray and just cannot cope without it, Google offers "Back to Beta" in it's Gmail labs.

Just Enable the option in Gmail settings, and there you are, back to beta, and all happy again, content to make jokes about perpetual testing.

Regardless as to why Google dropped the "beta" or if you just can't handle a non-beta Gmail logo, Gmail is good service that is constantly improving, but to the point of screwing up a good thing.

I ♥ Gmail!


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