As we predicted on SitePoint three days ago, Google has quietly dropped the “beta” tag from all their main applications:
It is also apparent that beta has been removed from Google Reader, Google Translate and Google Maps.
This action has been a long-time coming. GMail was introduced five years ago. Initially limited to invited-users only, the system has grown to be the most popular webmail system on the Internet. It was one of Google’s first Ajax-enabled applications and many people use it in preference to a dedicated email client.
Google’s official blog post makes the reasoning clear: they want to remove any doubts about Google Apps being a mature product suite. A new marketing effort will encourage business users to adopt the products and GMail will receive several new features specifically aimed at the commercial market:
- email delegation — a feature that allows administrative staff to screen and send email on behalf of others in their company
- email retention — a policy system for IT administrators to control when emails are purged (to comply with country and/or industry regulations)
- disaster recovery — features such as priority handling for business users’ email and live data replication
- migration tools — to help business users’ switch from Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.
Google has re-iterated that the standard versions will remain free for private users.
Is this the first sign of Google growing-up and becoming a business-aware corporation? Will dropping “beta” have a significant effect? Will it intensify their on-going battles with Microsoft?