It only took them five years, but it appears that Google has finally decided that all of their wildly popular tools are no longer in the “Beta” stage of development.
Google introduced Gmail on March 21, 2004 with the notation that it was a Beta product. This is a common term in computing circles and it denotes a product that is still in development. It is also a nice way of saying, “if there are problems, don’t whine, it’s a work in progress.” This is a perfectly normal practice for new Web-based applications, but how long is too long for something to still be considered a beta?
Well, apparently the question of when the whole Beta saga, which had honestly become a bit of a joke to tech bloggers, has been answered as Google finally removed the insipid little tag from its products today. Gmail is no longer in “Beta”, but now is a real boy, just like Pinocchio!
The tag was also removed from Google Apps, the enterprise edition of Google’s products, that allows Web sites to use a Gmail interface for their site’s email, calendar, documents and so on. Somewhere amidst the tag being removed, there was some confusion over at TechCrunch that the standard version of Apps, which was free to anyone with a domain, had been removed and was no longer going to be offered. This was corrected late in the day when Google contacted Michael Arrington, owner of TechCrunch, and said it was a design change and the link for the free version had been buried. The service is now open again to Standard sign ups.
Why it took so long for the company to remove the tag is not known at this time, and it may never be known, but at least every one now knows they are using a “real” product.