Google today will finally remove the long-standing beta tag from some of its most popular web applications, most notably its wildly popular email application, Gmail.
In addition to the beta-less Gmail, Google Calendar, Docs and Talk (i.e., the rest of the Google Apps suite) will also shed the beta moniker. Gmail has notoriously worn the beta badge since its initial invite-only launch back in April of 2004. Strangely, as the New York Times points out, Google's reasoning for keeping Gmail and other apps in beta for so long isn't all that fleshed out:
"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 standardise those. "It was time to address the issue and bring the products out of beta," he said.
The Times also points out that "[p] ractically speaking, the change will mean precious little to Gmail's millions of users" who've been happily using Gmail in beta for years.
We're still seeing the beta label on every Gmail account we've got as well as our Docs accounts, but Calendar is beta-free. Google's rollouts are always just that—rolling—so you can probably still expect to see the rest of those beta tags drop sometime yet today or this week if they haven't already. The Official Gmail Blog even highlights a new tongue-in-cheek Gmail Labs feature called Back to Beta that, when enabled, "[s] oothes the soul by putting the familiar beta sticker back on the Gmail logo".
Does the beta-less Gmail, Calendar, Docs, or Talk mean anything special to you? Will it inspire you to use Google apps more confidently? Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.
Gmail leaves beta, launches "Back to Beta" Labs feature [Official Gmail Blog] Gmail and Other Google Apps Finally Shed ‘Beta' Label [NYT]