Monday, September 29, 2008

Google Redefines "Beta"

Over the last couple of weeks there has been loads of talk about Google and the value of products they have in "Beta". Many reports put nearly 45% of Google products still in beta version.

"Of the 49 Google products we could find, 22 are in beta. That's 45 percent," not including Google Labs projects, according to a Wednesday blog post at Pingdom, a Web site performance monitoring company. "We're so used to seeing the little 'beta tag next to the various Google product logos that we almost don't register it anymore. We even had to double-check that Gmail really still was in beta."

Traditionally “beta” has been used to designate software that isn’t ready for prime time and may have bugs, yet millions of people use the four-year-old Gmail on a daily basis and, for most, Gmail is bug free. So why call it a beta?

A Google spokesperson tells NetworkWorld, “we believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the web….” So what is that meaning you may ask, well the Google spokesperson never exactly explained what Google’s precise definition of the word beta is, but reading between the lines it would seem the company means something like “we’re still adding features.”

Following that logic one could say Google might not ever take a product out of beta. And for that matter Microsoft has never taken an operating system out of beta, as it would seem through the addition of service packs and hotfixes we are always needing to add a new feature. Which I guess isn’t really a problem, after all it is just a word — just be aware that Google has its own definition of what beta means.

Here's Pingdom's full list of Google beta projects:
• Alerts
• Blog Search
• Book Search
• Google Chrome
• Finance
• Google Health
• Patent search
• Product Search
• Scholar
• Video
• Custom Search
• Calendar
• Docs
• Gmail
• Knol
• Orkut
• Talk
• Translate
• Google Pack
• Base
• Image Labeler
• News Archive Search

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