Posted December 12, 2008 8:29 am by with 19 comments

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With Google removing the "Beta" label from its Chrome web browser, we not only get some enhancements to the software, but we also get some insight into why Google’s products stay in beta sooooo long.

In the video interview we published yesterday, Google’s Marissa Mayer explains why Chrome came out of beta so fast, while other services–Gmail for example–have remained in beta for years,

Apparently, it’s all about motivation–oh, and money.

You see, there are no formal standards for how long a web application should remain in beta–with no consequences, Google can keep Gmail in beta ad infinitum. When you get to software–the stuff that runs on your desktop–keeping it in beta means that OEMs (such as Dell, Lenovo, etc) won’t touch it. There are strict standards for software betas and all the time Chrome kept that label, Google missed out on important distribution partnerships.

Even Google admits that Chrome is far from finished:

We have removed the beta label as our goals for stability and performance have been met but our work is far from done. We are working to add some common browser features such as form autofill and RSS support in the near future.

Those of you running a Windows machine–Mac and Linux users are still waiting for their version of Chrome–will see improvements in stability, speed, and a better bookmarking manager.

  • While the improvements certainly are welcome, this strategy appears to be rather unfair to users.

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  • @Nicole – I think it demonstrates that to Google, “beta” is just a label, and not really a standard of readiness for its products.

  • I hate it when software “grows up.”
    I will use Chrome beta as long as I can.
    Judging by what happens to browsers as they are upgraded, I welcome Chrome’s simplicity and sparseness. If I want feeds, I open up FeedDemon. Autofill is for lazy morons. Please, leave Chrome and don’t turn it into another obese Firefox 3.0 that gobbles up your system’s memory like Rosie O’Donnell eats Twinkies.

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  • Google is on top of the world for no reason. I’m sure they have a good excuse for everything that they do, for the most part.

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  • Steven

    It is because people are less likely to download beta client software than they are to use beta web software since people fear that beta client software may screw up their machine. Beta web software for the most part wont ruin anything so the barrier to entry in that beta software is lower. They probably knew they would stay at tiny marketshare if they didnt remove the beta tag from Chrome. Gmail, less so.

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  • Semantics, Create and influence opinions and most likely I would assume a case study would say not too many users are to quick to download a web browser with the terms either Alpha, Beta attached to it. Where gmail has always been in beta and is so well know that if you call it just about anything it wouldn’t matter.

  • Seems like everything’s in beta these days. Just a technicality really.

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  • Yes indeed, software standarts are very strict.

  • I am really looking forward to Chrome Updates.. (E.g. Extensions ). The browser is promising.

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  • PS3

    On the basis that I had no idea that mail (which I use every day) was still in beta, I guess it doesn’t really make a huge difference in he whole scheme of things.

  • beta just seems to be a Buzz word companies are using to draw attention

  • Well, i am waiting for Mac version, and also for some good extensions database.

  • It’s pretty logical but still I think that Google would have had enough of testing from Gmail until they got it out of BETA!

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  • I’ve not got round to trying Chrome yet, but do intend to.

    As for the ‘Beta’ labels, I don’t think software is ever 100% complete at the time it comes out of beta. You see this all the time with the likes of games getting patched just after release, and constant patches for different OS’s. I think software companies just like to get the software out in the wild to test that it’s stable on platforms other than their test boxes, and once they’re happy that it is, then the beta label gets removed.

    Then follows all the additional upgrades to add on the features that either got dropped to meet a deadline, or were scheduled for a future release. Working in the software industry, I see it all the time.

  • I think firefox is a excellent web browser and only occasionally have trouble with it crashing on ubuntu. Google chrome does not interest me much, but judging from this it seems like they are pouring a lot of resources in to it ill be interested in their planned innovations if they have any.

  • I couldn’t care less about the “beta” label’s presence, or lack of it, Google software in Beta is still better than the “finished” software of most other companies