First VLC, now Google. The kids are all growed up! Google has finally decided to ditch that pesky beta tag on several of its major projects. After five years of use, Gmail is apparently finally ready for prime time, along with Google Calendar, Google Talk, and Google Docs.
The reason for dropping "beta" from the products seems to be largely political: businesses are reluctant to have their critical infrastructure depend on software that's perpetually in beta. By getting rid of the moniker, Google is aiming to convince more enterprises to consider its products as suitable for their business. And, of course, given that those are the people actually paying real money for the product—instead of us consumer leeches who pay only by having our eyeballs assailed with ads—that's a smart move on Google's part.
As Google's Matthew Glotzbach, the director of product management in Google Enterprise wrote today on the company blog: "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."
On a related note, Google is also adding some new features for those paying customers: email delegation and relegation, allowing businesses using Google Apps to easily comply with various data-retention laws.
Beta was once almost a mark of status for Web services, but it's become less so over the past few years, as they've become more and more popular. Even photo-sharing site Flickr got out of beta (and into "gamma," no less)—back in '06. Take that, Google!