Wednesday, 8 July 2009

No more "beta" in Gmail et al.

As of yesterday, Google has removed the BETA label from Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and GTalk.

Wow. What a time to be alive... Where was I, at, uh, 8:02 am?!?! Asleep? Eating breakfast with the kids? Well, I didn't notice until Lifehacker told me yesterday when I checked my RSS feeds at around 10 am. And it didn't really sink in until tonight.

But it is somewhat of a big thing. On the Google blog entry about this, they talk about the issue of our new "world of rapid developmental cycles where products like Gmail continue to change indefinitely". The beta label could have suggested that these tools were not "perfected" yet, possibly meaning that something could go wrong at any moment. I know I thought about that recently when I noticed the beta sticker on Gmail a few weeks ago and mulled over what that meant. Should I go with something else? What else is there really? Does that word really mean that another free tool lacking the label would be any better? And there's always the issue of data back-up. Should I be doing that? Do I want to? Do I have the time? Is it even possible in all the tools I may want to do so for?

Although the removal of the beta label from these Google products is virtually meaningless directly, it makes a kind of sense to be done around now. The nature of these tools are not really changing - they will still be improved and changed as Google sees fit - but it was probably past due keeping it as a conspicuous issue in these tools in comparison with the other new things Google is and will be producing.

What do you think? Was it a good move? And what does it mean for them or for us users?

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