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Has Google Redefined Beta?

CmdrTaco posted about 6 years ago | from the finished-when-it's-finished dept.

Google 292

netbuzz writes "Someone finally took the time to do a count of all the Google apps marked 'beta.' And with fully 45% of its products carrying that familiar tag — including 4-year-old Gmail — Google says there's an explanation: Beta doesn't mean to them what it has long meant to the rest of the tech community. 'We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web,' says a company spokesman."

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Is that you Cheney? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150033)

Does Cheney run Google too?

Capitalism is dying (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150047)

Marxism has now confirmed: Capitalism is dying.

Yet another crippling bombshell hit the beleaguered bourgeoisie when
Das Kapital confirmed that the rate of profit tends to fall
leading to crisis, war and the ultimate destruction of the capitalism
system. Coming on the heels of the latest economic data showing that
the US is entering a deep recession, this news serves to reinforce
what we've know all along. Capitalism is collapsing in complete disarray,
as further exemplified by failing dead last in the recent Sys Admin
comprehensive networking test.

You don't need to be a Lenin to predict capitalism's future. The hand
writing is on the wall: capitalism faces a bleak future. In fact there
won't be any future at for capitalism because capitalism is dying. Things
are looking very bad for capitalism. As many of us are already aware
surplus value (S) is redistributed among individual capitals by
competition leading to an average rate of profit (r) relative to the
organic composition of capital. In order to improve their position
individual capitalism must increase their production of surplus value;
either by increasing the length of working day, but this has
physiological limits or by increasing the constant capital used but
this leads to a fall in the average rate of profit.
Let's keep to the facts and look at the numbers.

Capitalist leader George W Bush states that there 7000 capitalists.
How about members of the proletariat are there? Let's see. The number
of proletariats in America is roughly 200 million. Therefore
there are about 100000 workers which for each person with an
interest in capitalism. A recent article put the petty bourgeoisie at
a rapidly declining proportion of the population. This is consistent
with the predictions of the communist manifesto.

Due to the troubles of British imperialism, two world wars and so on,
European capitalism went out of business and was taken over by Yankee
imperialism who were also in trouble. Now US imperialism is also dead,
its venality and corruption exposed by its own creation, radical
Islam.

All major surveys show that capitalism has steadily declined in credibility.
Capitalism is very sick and its long term survival prospects are very
dim. If capitalism is to survive at all it will be as a fascist
dictatorship. Capitalism continues to decay. Nothing short of a miracle could
save it at this point in time. For all practical purposes, capitalism is
dead.

That's just plain stupid (5, Insightful)

rallymatte (707679) | about 6 years ago | (#25150037)

What are we going to call actual beta web software then? Alpha? But then what would we call Alpha software?
I mean, just because you're still adding features to it, doesn't mean that it has to be called beta, does it?

Also, what I quite don't understand is why they would want to call it beta, I mean, it's not like it's got a good cling to it. It just makes it sound like something unstable and unreliable. Google are tryint o get people to buy the premium version of Gmail. Why would someone want to pay for beta-testing something for someone?

--
Champagne should be cold, dry and free.

Re:That's just plain stupid (5, Insightful)

dintlu (1171159) | about 6 years ago | (#25150287)

Us: If you don't like the definition, use a different word.
Google: If you don't like the definition, change the definition.

It's just how language works. If you're important enough you can do whatever you want.

Re:That's just plain stupid (5, Insightful)

JuanCarlosII (1086993) | about 6 years ago | (#25150527)

It's just how life works. If you're important enough you can do whatever you want.

There, fixed it for you.

Re:That's just plain stupid (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 6 years ago | (#25150289)

Who, aside from people using GMail as some sort of enterprise mail application, gives a shit what they call it? I don't, it's something I'm using for "free" and it works.

YMMV.

Re:That's just plain stupid (5, Insightful)

samkass (174571) | about 6 years ago | (#25150379)

Google hasn't "changed the definition"... no one else is using it like Google uses it.

They're just using the word wrong.

Re:That's just plain stupid (5, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 6 years ago | (#25150433)

Might I suggest that they use the term Gamma? It seems obvious to me. It is more advanced than Beta but not officially "Gold Master".

Layne

Re:That's just plain stupid (3, Insightful)

Threni (635302) | about 6 years ago | (#25150675)

They're just hedging their bets. People are used to using their beta software and, like Gmail, it's generally pretty solid so it doesn't have the same air of flakiness about it as other beta software might. But if anything goes wrong they can say "well, it's just beta...and besides, you didn't pay anything for that".

Re:That's just plain stupid (5, Funny)

Jonah Hex (651948) | about 6 years ago | (#25150799)

Well for a company that can't spell Googol [wikipedia.org] correctly, I'm not surprised they would not be using the word Beta correctly. We're just lucky they haven't started spelling it Baitah, Beata, or Bayta.
 
Jonah HEX

Obligatory (2, Funny)

ChefInnocent (667809) | about 6 years ago | (#25150851)

Then perhaps, someone should tell them, "I do not think that word means what you think it does."

Re:That's just plain stupid (3, Interesting)

Vellmont (569020) | about 6 years ago | (#25150599)


Also, what I quite don't understand is why they would want to call it beta, I mean, it's not like it's got a good cling to it.

No it's not. I really don't know why they continue to use "beta" when a product is clearly mature.

My honest guess? It's a compromise between the marketing people and the developers. Developers want to add new things continuously and not go through these product development stages where they do endless testing to see if people like a new feature. Marketing people get all nervous about new features "ruining their brand". The developers are still in charge at Google (being a young company), so the compromise is just to call everything "beta" (A pretty stupid compromise IMO).

You're entirely right about the "pay for premium" though. Google needs to drop the stupid beta word, and pick something that's more representative of what the product is. I'd choose something more like a "lifestage" kind of label. Toddler, teenage, adult, mature, senior, elderly would be good starts.

Re:That's just plain stupid (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about 6 years ago | (#25150767)

The developers are still in charge at Google (being a young company)

Google's was born Sept 4th, 2008, making them over 10 years old. They have over 10,000 employees worldwide. They have a market cap of $137 billion. They had revenues of $16.5 billion last year. None of these things indicate that they are a "young" company. While much of management might have once been some type of a developer, saying developers are still in charge is just silly.

Re:That's just plain stupid (3, Informative)

es330td (964170) | about 6 years ago | (#25150783)

My guess is that they call everything "beta" so as to limit the amount of complaints they get when something breaks. "Oh, wait, you were using a beta application to conduct your important company communications? I'm sorry, didn't anyone tell you that beta software doesn't come with the same expectations for reliability and data integrity as released, production code? Silly rabbit!"

With beta software they can break or alter anything at will and our only course of action is to say "Thank you; may I please have another?"

Re:That's just plain stupid (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 6 years ago | (#25150727)

Beta is just a cheap excuse for some companies to indemnify themselves against legal problems and customer complaints caused by glitches and lazy coding. It's a cop-out.

Re:That's just plain stupid (2, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | about 6 years ago | (#25150867)

Yeah, but as long as the software doesn't actually cost any thing, then... you get what you pay for.

Re:That's just plain stupid (2, Insightful)

ExtremePhobia (1326407) | about 6 years ago | (#25150857)

beta doesn't carry the stigma it used to. People are DRAWN to beta because it says "I'm a trend setter" or "I helped make this what it is." It comes from all the Open Beta testing people have gotten into, particularly with MMO's. Beta isn't a bad thing anymore. It's certainly better than a broken finished product and it's a lot easier to explain away problems

Re:That's just plain stupid (4, Insightful)

swabeui (1291044) | about 6 years ago | (#25150873)

From my experience, their 'beta' is often better than most releases from other companies. Why does a label like 'beta' have to define the quality of a product, why can't the brand provide that?

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150043)

Beta first post [tinyurl.com] . I hope it worked.

I prefer the old definitions: (5, Funny)

Chemisor (97276) | about 6 years ago | (#25150045)

Alpha: it doesn't work.
Beta: it still doesn't work.

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (5, Funny)

Daimanta (1140543) | about 6 years ago | (#25150189)

And to continue on that

Release Candidate: It might work, but it probably won't
Gold: It still doesn't work, but users are great bugtester
SP1: Still not done, has some bugs left and misses some funtionality
SP2: This one might actually be done, try at your own risk though

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (5, Funny)

idlehanz (1262698) | about 6 years ago | (#25150283)

And one more SP3: The last release you'll see for this product because getting revenue from a new product is cheaper than fixing any more bugs.

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (4, Funny)

Smivs (1197859) | about 6 years ago | (#25150235)

Re Gmail being beta, does this mean when it's 'finished' it will be Alpha mail?

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (1)

amnezick (1253408) | about 6 years ago | (#25150295)

alpha mail .. haha .. good one

+1 subtle

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (1)

Zebano (626335) | about 6 years ago | (#25150623)

Re Gmail being beta, does this mean when it's 'finished' it will be Alpha mail?

No, that would be Omega Mail.

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (1)

Smivs (1197859) | about 6 years ago | (#25150751)

You must be thinking of Charlton Heston [imdb.com] in The Omega Man. He also starred in Touch of Evil [imdb.com] which is nothing to do with Google, obviously.

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150297)

Alpha: First draft; completely untested code.
Beta: Almost feature complete; most of the unit tests pass.
RC: Feature complete; most of the integration tests pass.
SP1: A few new buggy features.
SP2: Hasty bugfixes for SP1.
SP3: Finally works.

On the web you're never feature complete, and it's rather difficult to do integration testing.

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150367)

1.uhoh

it still doesn't work, but please pay for it.

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (5, Funny)

clickety6 (141178) | about 6 years ago | (#25150409)

Software Development Lifecycle

Alpha- short for "It's alpha-lly crap"

Beta - short for "It's still alpha-ally crap, but it's beta than it was"

Release - short for "it still release-tinks, but we've gotta publish"

Gold - Short for "it's gold-arn awful, but at least it's out the door"

I still refer to this site as ... (1)

neonprimetime (528653) | about 6 years ago | (#25150441)

/. beta

Re:I prefer the old definitions: (1)

at_slashdot (674436) | about 6 years ago | (#25150673)

I prefer KDE's definition: 4.2 still doesn't have the basic features that 3.5 had.

Bit of a stab at Microshaft in TFA (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | about 6 years ago | (#25150057)

Rather than the packaged, stagnant software of decades past

I rather like that :-)

Re:Bit of a stab at Microshaft in TFA (0, Offtopic)

MyLongNickName (822545) | about 6 years ago | (#25150195)

I sincerely apologize for coopting a thread with a post that is not related to the topic of hand. However, there is some big new out there that needs discussing. Bigger than the election. Bigger than a $700 Billion dollar bail out. It will affect you very deeply. Please read here [people.com] .

I understand if you mod me offtopic, but you need to read this and get your hot grits ready.

Google may not know what beta means... (5, Insightful)

nycguy (892403) | about 6 years ago | (#25150063)

but their spokesperson sure knows what bullshit [wikipedia.org] means.

Re:Google may not know what beta means... (1)

teknopurge (199509) | about 6 years ago | (#25150245)

MOD PARENT UP.

Re:Google may not know what beta means... (1)

thered2001 (1257950) | about 6 years ago | (#25150461)

I prefer Stephenson's "bullshyt" - which is what this beta stuff is.

I call BS on this one. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150083)

That's a load of BS. Those fat asses are just lazy to carry the responsibility.

Why label it beta at all... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150093)

So, by that logic, every piece of software that can be updated is beta. Windows, Linux, OSX, etc.

I guess it gives them an excuse if their shit don't work.

Re:Why label it beta at all... (1)

gambino21 (809810) | about 6 years ago | (#25150775)

So, by that logic, every piece of software that can be updated is beta.

Which means that every piece of software is beta, since any software could conceivably be updated. And in that case the term "beta" becomes redundant so we are back where we started. I think you're right they just don't want the responsibility if something fails.

The True Meaning of Beta (0, Flamebait)

Sasayaki (1096761) | about 6 years ago | (#25150095)

I think that it's less that Google have redefined Beta, but that they've bought it back to what it SHOULD be- usable and feature-complete software which is just undergoing stringent testing for subtle defects and bugs.

Frankly, this makes for a refreshing change from the rest of the software industry (particularly Microsoft) who hold the opinion that Beta is Greek for "Great- ship it and patch it up later."

Re: *NOT* The True Meaning of Beta (5, Insightful)

schon (31600) | about 6 years ago | (#25150225)

they've bought it back to what it SHOULD be

No, they haven't.

usable and feature-complete software which is just undergoing stringent testing for subtle defects and bugs

You missed the last part of that, which reads by a limited number of testers.

If an app is delivered to end users, then it's not beta.

Re: *NOT* The True Meaning of Beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150325)

So... what's an open beta then?

Gmail *was* a closed beta, but they opened it up a while back

Re: *NOT* The True Meaning of Beta (1)

bryce4president (1247134) | about 6 years ago | (#25150719)

gmail.

Re: *NOT* The True Meaning of Beta (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 6 years ago | (#25150459)

You missed the last part of that, which reads by a limited number of testers.

If an app is delivered to end users, then it's not beta.

Says who? Are we going to complain about Mozilla's definition of beta [mozilla.com] too then?

Re: *NOT* The True Meaning of Beta (1)

daniorerio (1070048) | about 6 years ago | (#25150557)

that depends on your definition of "limited number" :)

Re:The True Meaning of Beta (2, Informative)

geminidomino (614729) | about 6 years ago | (#25150227)

I think that it's less that Google have redefined Beta, but that they've bought it back to what it SHOULD be- usable and feature-complete software which is just undergoing stringent testing for subtle defects and bugs.

Actually, you're wrong (about google going back to what Beta SHOULD be, not about what it should be). From TFA.

"We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product.."

They're not stabilizing, they're adding features.

Re:The True Meaning of Beta (2, Insightful)

bryce4president (1247134) | about 6 years ago | (#25150739)

And the last time I checked that was called versioning.

Re:The True Meaning of Beta (1)

mdwh2 (535323) | about 6 years ago | (#25150535)

I agree - this also reminds of the common practice in open source where software products have version numbers of 0.xyz for years, even though they're fully usable and available for all (I don't know if these are explicitly referred to as betas, or whether it's implied). It's a refreshing change from companies that try to increase the numbers as fast as possible, and in cases like Microsoft, you have to wait until version 5 to get a usable product (not to mention that they sometimes like to start the count at 3.5...)

"Has Google Redefined Beta?" (5, Insightful)

geckipede (1261408) | about 6 years ago | (#25150109)

Can we just tag this "yes" and move on?

Re:"Has Google Redefined Beta?" (5, Funny)

Phylarr (981216) | about 6 years ago | (#25150317)

I would, but the tags are still in Beta.

Re:"Has Google Redefined Beta?" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150525)

No.

I think its fair enough (5, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 years ago | (#25150119)

Beta means "it may change without warning". With traditional apps you have a choice to upgrade or not, but not with web applications. As long as there is active development then it is essentially a beta. Maybe they should have used a different term, but I think it is useful to have a warning that there may be frequent and substantial changes.

Re:I think its fair enough (5, Insightful)

apathy maybe (922212) | about 6 years ago | (#25150223)

Actually that isn't quite true.

Even right now I have the choice of three (3) Yahoo email interfaces. The very old version that isn't supported any more and still uses frames (but doesn't require JavaScript). The "new" Yahoo interface that has been around for a number of years, and the new-"new" interface that looks more like a desktop app.

When Yahoo introduced the "new" look and feel (the current look and feel), there was a long time between introducing it and forcing it on everyone.

Yahoo has had the lastest look and feel available for ages, and I've stuck with the old "new" look, and will continue to. (I don't like the very heavy interface that pretending to be a desktop app brings. Especially on slow connections.)

Even Google offers cutting edge features to people to test them out, before introducing them into the main stream product line.

So basically Google are talking bullshit and mis-using an established computing term.

Re:I think its fair enough (1)

CraftyJack (1031736) | about 6 years ago | (#25150263)

It also means "not our problem if it craps out on you".

Re:I think its fair enough (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | about 6 years ago | (#25150415)

no, beta means "still not ready for prime time and should not be used in production". The strange thing is most of Google's applications are production ready. I think they're just covering themselves in case something goes wrong. Particularly if they get sued they can claim that it's just beta software.

Re:I think its fair enough (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 6 years ago | (#25150479)

Beta means "it may change without warning". With traditional apps you have a choice to upgrade or not, but not with web applications.

While some traditional applications may give a choice in upgrading, those apps are ultimately trying to force the upgrade. For example, developing for Windows 9x is more difficult than Windows XP, since MSVC will try to default to code optimized for the newer operating system.

The only case where you have a "true" choice is if there's a rollback function, as with the Xp/Vista driver update system. Traditional apps tend to resist this, by insisting they won't update a newer version or by not allowing a rollback.

Re:I think its fair enough (1)

VickiM (920888) | about 6 years ago | (#25150839)

By this definition, every MMO is in perpetual beta. They can always patch it and change almost anything, and if you want to play, you have no choice.

Perhaps they should be more wary.... (3, Funny)

mblase (200735) | about 6 years ago | (#25150123)

I seem to recall that Stavro Muller intentionally added the Beta label to one of his own restaurants, with catastrophic results.

Re:Perhaps they should be more wary.... (2, Funny)

somersault (912633) | about 6 years ago | (#25150169)

Mr T says: I ain't eatin no beta-carotene, sucka!

BS (5, Insightful)

MrMickS (568778) | about 6 years ago | (#25150139)

What a load of BS. Its a matter of liability. By saying that the products are still in 'Beta' they have a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card if there are any problems. Its odd that the G1 phone is tied to using services that are still labelled as beta.

Re:BS (4, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | about 6 years ago | (#25150559)

It also means they can change the product in any way they wish, including withdrawing it completely, without explanation.

No other company could get away with this, but because the products are, in effect, free I guess they can do what they want. But I bet the lawsuits would fly if they ever dared pull something like GMail.

But remember folks, you get what you pay for.

MS redefined beta a long time ago (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about 6 years ago | (#25150143)

Microsoft redefined "release" to be what we previously called "beta", a long time ago. That's why "Google's 'beta' products like Gmail and Google Docs are about as good as anyone would expect" -- we've been brought to expect software and services which are barely tested. Google is returning to the old meaning and perhaps going a bit further.

Again, Apple was the first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150519)

Microsoft redefined "release" to be what we previously called "beta", a long time ago.

I don't mean to sound like another Apple fanboi, but Apple was doing that long before MS. I think Apple may have borrowed the idea from IBM or Xerox.

No Guarantees or SLA (2, Insightful)

bassakward (823721) | about 6 years ago | (#25150145)

I think it just means that we will not give you an official SLA, nor any guarantees. basically our only assurance that these things work is Google's name and their reluctance to get embarrassed. And I'm OK with that.

A word means what I want it to mean (1)

David Gerard (12369) | about 6 years ago | (#25150163)

They've redefined the word "beta." Have they also redefined the word "evil?" [today.com] "Every bit of data about you, your life and the house you live in is strictly a secret between you and our marketing department. Really. But, hypothetically, if we were evil, it's not like you're going to use Windows Live Search. Muwaahahahaha! I'm sorry, that's my 'spreading good cheer' laugh. Really."

Change? No. Excuse? Yes. (4, Interesting)

Bieeanda (961632) | about 6 years ago | (#25150167)

Companies have been hiding behind the title 'beta' for years, and numerous end-users have no idea what the Hell the term means anyway. It's just an excuse to shovel half-completed applications out and fiddle with them at leisure. Missing functionality? Oh, it's just beta code. Broken functionality? Oh, just wait for the patch. Completely redesigned UI, data loss, unannounced restrictions? Silly, it's a beta! You shouldn't be using it for mission-critical purposes, even though we're always suggesting that you do.

Christ, game companies have been using 'beta' as a dodge for shitty demos since Shiny squeezed Messiah out. The fact that the same 'it's just a beta, it'll get better!' promises and pleas have trickled upward and outward is clear indication that gravity itself is in beta, because shit certainly doesn't just flow downhill any more.

Actually no.. (5, Informative)

sw155kn1f3 (600118) | about 6 years ago | (#25150171)

Several companies used "beta" to indicate that product is just not supported. For instance ICQ was beta for like 4-5 years? Don't remember exactly.
So nothing new here actually.

Sounds like BS to me . . . (1)

mmell (832646) | about 6 years ago | (#25150233)

The only valid reason I can see for Google to leave the tag "beta" stuck on everything is so that when competitors (think: M$) give 'em a dig, such as "Oh, but Google Mail can't do {blah}", the PHB's at Google can immediately answer back "Well, Google Mail is still in beta. We're looking at implementation of {blah}, and expect it to be up and running shortly."

I can also see this in court - "Your honor, we didn't reverse engineer functionality {blah} - our system is still in beta. We were planning to implement {blah} all along. We didn't steal the idea from so-and-so."

Do no evil? Hmmm . . . how 'bout "Free the beast". Has anybody here looked at the price of Google stock lately? I use their tools regularly (frankly, I'm glad as hell that Google exists), but I don't fool myself. They're definitely in it for the money. Then again, so am I.

Alot of words get redefined over time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150261)

Just look what Clinton (Bill) did for the word "sex".

Que Google Employee Fanbois (0, Redundant)

teknopurge (199509) | about 6 years ago | (#25150265)

In 3....2.....1......

Re:Que Google Employee Fanbois (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | about 6 years ago | (#25150393)

You know what? You don't need to be a Google employer, beneficiary, partner, affiliate or stock owner to like them and what they do. Its pretty easy to like them just as a regular user because they behave much better than your average corporation. They provide excellent services and are not above acknowledging mistakes and for example change EULA's if users don't want them.

Re:Que Google Employee Fanbois (1)

teknopurge (199509) | about 6 years ago | (#25150771)

No but you need to be a Google employer, beneficiary, partner, affiliate or stock owner to make excuses for their history of shortcomings and business ineptitude. IANATroll, but if they didn't have adwords they would have been bankrupt or acquired 6 years ago.

Let's be honest (5, Insightful)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | about 6 years ago | (#25150313)

Modern software engineering *everywhere* has redefined "beta"... which is why "software engineering" exists only at NASA and a few other such places.

The rest of software "engineers" throw half-ready rubbish over the wall to meet idiotic management's "vision" and "development schedule" and pray that someone else's job will go to India when the self-serving suits at the top decide to go for big bonuses by slashing the payroll.

On the other hand, evolution itself is constant beta, with losers and winners, periodically re-set by catastrophic terrestrial events that wipe out all lawyers.

Still in Beta?!? (3, Funny)

r33per (585447) | about 6 years ago | (#25150351)

All I can say is that we're out of beta: we're releasing on time.

Re:Still in Beta?!? (0, Redundant)

AndyboyH (837116) | about 6 years ago | (#25150389)

ahh, but are you still alive?

My definition of "beta" (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 6 years ago | (#25150363)

To me, beta means that you can use the software, but don't expect it to be "stable", either for crashes or changing. If a project is in "beta" for 4 years, something is wrong, either with the project or, in the case of gmail, with their definition of "beta".

good answer! (1)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | about 6 years ago | (#25150371)

I like the spokepersons answer, as it lines up nicely with the nature of the company's employees.

Not to pass judgement, but their overwhelmingly elitist and extremely confident - realistically, that's not a value statement.

Look at it from a monetary standpoint. (1)

Chas (5144) | about 6 years ago | (#25150385)

Seriously. With beta software, they don't have to devote near the level of technical support staff that they would a "full" shipping product. Also, they're more protected in case data is lost/damaged/leaked (who runs their business off "beta" software?)

Also, they tap into the tinker mentality most people have with betas. So they get a lot more usage and feedback from people than they would with a "shipping" product where people would simply bitch about bugs.

So.

Saves money.
Covers their asses legally in case it's messed up.
Tends to get better feedback.

Re:Look at it from a monetary standpoint. (1)

Jeff Hornby (211519) | about 6 years ago | (#25150583)

You talk about this as if it's a good thing.

I can see point number 3 being a good thing but how does a company not properly supporting a product and not taking responsibility for a mess it caused help me as a customer?

Beta = Everything old is NEW again! (3, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | about 6 years ago | (#25150387)

While we wait, if any of you should have a theory of your own, please share with the group.

My theory is that by always having 'beta' next to something, this ensures that anyone who uses their tools will always think they are using the latest and greatest.

Or, maybe they want to remind people of a fish, [associatedcontent.com] that swims alone from the crowd with a brilliant display of features.

Re:Beta = Everything old is NEW again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150755)

Or, maybe they want to remind people of a fish, [associatedcontent.com] that swims alone from the crowd with a brilliant display of features.

So, if I create a mirror of Google, Google will beat the shit out of it?

Ego (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | about 6 years ago | (#25150443)

Sounds like a bit of ego to me. This "we're Google and we can do things our way" mentality is fine within the company, but outwardly calling something beta has certain connotation to us average computer users. Sure, we joke about it, but it's just plain stupid to be honest. GMail isn't in beta, it's used daily by over a million people.

Experimental Use exception perhaps? (2, Interesting)

cpu_fusion (705735) | about 6 years ago | (#25150445)

I'm no attorney, but perhaps Google figures that if they treat these products as "experimental" in some way they will have a chance at mitigating the one year timer on obtaining a patent after public use?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Experimental_use [wikipedia.org]

GMail really is still Beta (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 6 years ago | (#25150449)

Much as I like, and rely upon, GMail, you can't say that it's yet really production/release (i.e. out of Beta) quality, and in fact in the last few weeks it's taken a turn for the worse.

The functionality seems bug free, but the deployment/availablility still seems to have issues. I'm used to the occasional GMail service outages which don't last very long, but a new thing from the last few weeks is that almost every operation you do on GMail results in a (paraphrasing) "temporary failure/unavailable - try again in a few seconds" error with the operation then succeeding on the second attempt. I get the impression they've enabled some super-aggressive session/cache timeout maybe to help scalability.

Re:GMail really is still Beta (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 6 years ago | (#25150621)

Much as I like, and rely upon, GMail, you can't say that it's yet really production/release (i.e. out of Beta) quality, and in fact in the last few weeks it's taken a turn for the worse.

The functionality seems bug free, but the deployment/availablility still seems to have issues. I'm used to the occasional GMail service outages which don't last very long, but a new thing from the last few weeks is that almost every operation you do on GMail results in a (paraphrasing) "temporary failure/unavailable - try again in a few seconds" error with the operation then succeeding on the second attempt. I get the impression they've enabled some super-aggressive session/cache timeout maybe to help scalability.

Maybe they should just replace the "Beta" label with "Unreliable."

Obligatory (0, Offtopic)

poormanjoe (889634) | about 6 years ago | (#25150549)

-- Snake inspects his haul

Oh no! Beta!

It'd be because of EULAs! (1)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | about 6 years ago | (#25150565)

An application (being it web or traditional) can be in BETA status because of a temporary, not yet finished or even absent EULA [wikipedia.org] .

Google is Following in Humpty Dumpty's Footsteps (5, Funny)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | about 6 years ago | (#25150579)

When I use a word it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

--- Humpty Dumpty

It means that Google is mostly finished with it... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about 6 years ago | (#25150589)

...aside from toying on occasion with new features, but don't want you to think they have to fix anything that is 'wrong' with it, because it's "beta" software and supposed to have those 'flaws.' Standard Google distortion of reality field, release several new 'products' a year, don't actually finish any of them because they're only used to draw attention to Google's search.

I'm sure it must be quite enjoyable to work there as a software engineer, but I wonder if they realize on a conscious level that the company doesn't care if you make something useful - they just want you to make something popular, like Google Earth. Talk about something that a company like Google could turn into an incredible product, but no, it's mostly a toy with some people using it to augment their needs on occasion (e.g. NASA.)

The spoon is not a spoon (1)

UberHoser (868520) | about 6 years ago | (#25150619)

That is all.

Marketing (1)

PolarBearFire (1176791) | about 6 years ago | (#25150653)

I thinkg Google is using Beta just because it sounds cool. Sure Google has high standards, but if a multibillion dollar company with thousands of engineers and years of man hours can't finish say an email app, who can? They'll probably stop using it once another company starts using and it's no longer fashionable.

Ob tag? (1)

Ricochet (16874) | about 6 years ago | (#25150661)

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." - Inigo Montoya, Princess Bride

BETA!!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150665)

BETA!

The real definition (1)

querist (97166) | about 6 years ago | (#25150693)

They're just having flashbacks to the 80's and the video cassette format wars.

Beta = better.

as if anyone is in a position to argue? (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 6 years ago | (#25150715)

google could redefine a cucumber as a small nocturnal mammal, and the whole world would fall in line. google search is all of our collective recall. it's the 800 pound gorilla of the web. it can make any word mean anything they want it to

call it a "google mind trick"

World: Let us see Gmail move out of beta.
Google: [with a small tweak of the spider] You don't need to see Gmail move out of beta.
World: We don't need to Gmail move out of beta.
Google: Beta does not have the meaning you think it has.
World: Beta does not have the meaning I think it has.
Google: You believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web.
World: I believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web.
Gmail: Move along.
World: Move along... move along.

Yes... (3, Funny)

stoofa (524247) | about 6 years ago | (#25150785)

And they have redefined 'no evil' too.

A matter of responsibility (1)

Alkonaut (604183) | about 6 years ago | (#25150817)

"Beta" is software that you don't take any responsibility for. Thus you can't charge anything for it either. Emails disappearing from a beta email system is bad marketing, but it is use-at-your-own-risk software.

Since google doesn't charge users anything for using their applications, they have no reason to remove the word beta from them. Thus they can make zillions on ads, and not really promise anything regarding uptime, data integrity and such.

So nothing is gold by their definition? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25150825)

We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product. On the Web, you don't have to wait for the next version to be on the shelf or an update to become available. Improvements are rolled out as they're developed. Rather than the packaged, stagnant software of decades past, we're moving to a world of regular updates and constant feature refinement where applications live in the cloud.

So what they're saying is that all web services are beta by default. So the only time something comes out of beta is when it's no longer being developed? That's the most fucking stupid thing I've seen in a while.

FLOSS did it first (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 years ago | (#25150827)

Look at all the FLOSS projects that have been in perpetual BETA.
Look at the projects have version numbers like "0.34.65".
It used to be when a project hit final release it's version number hit "1.0". But, one can find "stable" distributions that are loaded with "0.x" version software. And, those same projects never seem to close in on a version 1.0 final release. They just keep adding features and incrementing the minor numbers.

Why is it so hard for projects to set a feature list and performance goal to be considered 1.0, reach it, go from beta to gold, change to 1.0?

Google = right (1)

netpixie (155816) | about 6 years ago | (#25150891)

I don't think that it's Google that is wrong, everyone else is.

They admit their software is shonky load of old arse - hence the beta tag.

How often have you bought a piece of supposedly "finished" software only to find out it is absolute dreck? It's the companies that sell those bits of beta software as if they are proper products that deserve our scorn, rather than Google who are trying to be honest about what they are distributing.

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