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Gmail, Other Google Apps Escape Beta Status

If you have a Gmail account and you haven't checked it yet today, log in and see if anything on that site looks different. Notice anything missing? Do you feel a vague sense of absence when you gaze over your inbox?

gmail_no_beta_logo.jpg

That's right: The "beta" subtitle that has graced the Gmail logo since April 1, 2004 is gone.

(If you need to take a moment to compose yourself--maybe to rush to the nearest window to verify that the sky is still blue on this planet--I understand.)

Google explained this stunning news in a blog post this morning. Short version: Corporate America made them do it.

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.

By "Apps suite," the Mountain View, Calif.-based company means not just Gmail, but also Google Docs, Google Calendar and Google Talk. (When I log into Google Docs, I still see the "beta" label; Google's post says these labels "will be removed from the product logos today," so I'll have to check back in a bit.)

For those who already miss the old world order, a separate post on Google's Gmail blog explains how to switch on a new "Back to Beta" option that will restore the familiar label.

When something this unsettling happens, a little soul-searching seems appropriate. So be honest: When did you expect Gmail to graduate from beta status? On its 10th anniversary? 2029? 2063? Never? And if this is possible, what comes next?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 7, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , E-mail  
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Comments

I always thought they left everything as 'Beta' to absolve themselves of any support responsibility.

Posted by: JkR- | July 7, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I never did understand Google's use of the word beta. And today's post from Google doesn't explain anything. Why were the Google apps in Beta?

And most perplexing: Why would I want to change my options to make the beta label reappear? And if I cam make the label reappear, then is it still beta?

I don't get it!

Posted by: kjhealey | July 7, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I think this is a sign that the term "BETA" has lost it cachet.

Time was when the quasi-tech-savvy world sought out "BETA" applications. I think that day is gone.

I think part of the drive away from "BETA" is the huge number of applications or sites that ought to be labeled "BETA" but aren't and generally stink.

BETA is no longer cutting-edge. It's now just "sloppy".

Posted by: Annorax | July 7, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

My life has been in Beta since 1987.

Posted by: jimward21 | July 8, 2009 7:24 AM | Report abuse

When can I get Gmail VHS?

Posted by: mccxxiii | July 8, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I expected that these beta services would be terminated just as other google services
have been canceled.
I still don't understand how to be comfortable with software and IT services from an advertising company. It is difficult enough to be comfortable with software from software companies such as uSoft.
W

Posted by: George20 | July 8, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Can we now call it Gmail Alpha?

Posted by: SSMD1 | July 8, 2009 10:34 AM | Report abuse

Beta comes after alpha.

Posted by: BrownTown5000 | July 8, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Alpha is a non-release you never see. It's now Gmail x.x.

Does this have anything to do with charging now for their Apps Suite?

Posted by: brcmapgirl | July 8, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

life is perpetually in beta...

Posted by: quincy1015 | July 8, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Google is not the only big software company engaging in this practice. Microsoft Windows 7 has been in beta test ever since November 2006, when Windows Vista (a.k.a. Windows 7 beta) was released for shipment by PC manufacturers. So if Windows 7 is released on schedule on October 22, it will have been in beta test for about three years. (Windows Vista beta was more like Windows 7 alpha.)

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | July 8, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Beta ! I always thought that it was a New Yorker's expression! You know, it is "better" than Explorer 7 !

Posted by: johnvincent | July 12, 2009 7:51 AM | Report abuse

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