July 7, 2009

Google’s Gmail Service Drops ‘Beta’ Label

Google's Gmail service is finally graduating from "beta" after more than five years of being in testing mode, The Associated Press reported.

The Internet search leader's e-mail service and three other applications in the Google Apps suite for businesses are now officially out of testing and ready users.

However, Google said it was not finished improving upon them, nor were the extra features announced Tuesday meant to imply they would not be without certain bugs.

Therefore, dropping the "Ëœbeta' label doesn't necessarily mean what it's supposed to mean.

The company stated the move was more about luring business customers than marking any real developmental milestone in its services.

Business customers, who get added features including offline access and 24/7 customer support, can get the premier edition Apps suite for $50 per user.

But it was the "beta" label that was keeping many businesses from using Google's service.

Rajen Sheth, a Google senior product manager, said many of the companies that have looked in depth at the apps have seen that they are feature complete, but the "Ëœbeta' label kept them from even looking at it.

Google Sites and Google Video had already dropped the label and Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk are now out of beta mode.

However, some other applications not included in Apps suite, such as Google Scholars, will still carry the tag.

Gmail users will even have the option to restore the "beta" tag on their own screens, should they need the assurance.

Google also announced two new Gmail features for premier business customers over the next few weeks.

One allows administrative assistants to send e-mail on others' behalf, while the other lets companies automatically purge old e-mails after a certain period of time.

And in an effort to reducing the likelihood of e-mail downtime, Google also said it will begin storing business-grade e-mails at two data centers simultaneously.

While Google has not said how many paying customers it has, the company acknowledged it has about 1.75 billion businesses currently using Google Apps.


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