By Google standards, that is. The “Don’t Be Evil” folks just removed the “beta” label from their Gmail service.
Beta versions, which are sandwiched between internal “alpha” versions and final “release” versions, typically have a lifespan of weeks or months.
But Gmail was different. Released on April 1, 2004, it was still in beta five years and tens of millions of users later.
This, according to Miguel Helft writing in the New York Times. And what was the delay?
“Obviously we haven’t had a consistent set of policies or definitions around beta,” Matthew Glotzbach, a director of product management at Google, said in an interview. Mr. Glotzbach said that different teams at Google had different criteria for what beta meant, and that Google felt a need to standardize those. “It was time to address the issue and bring the products out of beta,” he said.
I have been refering to this blog as a “first draft” based on my experiences as a novelist. But after reading this article I found the right terminology. cubiyanqui is still in its “beta” version.
I’ll make an announcement within the next five years when our final “release” version becomes available. If you feel the urge to suggest improvements in the meantime, just take a deep breadth and wait until the urge passes.