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By | Kelly Fiveash 7th July 2009 16:20

Google strips beta wrapper from Gmail, Docs et al

Prays for Microsoft, IBM slap down

Google has slipped the beta tag from its Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Talk apps in an effort to lure more businesses out of Microsoft and IBM’s clutches.

The company, which launched the Google Apps suite two years ago, announced the decision today.

Mountain View justified the move away from beta by pointing out that Google Apps has a service level agreement, round the clock support and “has met or exceeded all the other standards of non-beta software.”

It claimed more than 1.75m businesses worldwide use Google Apps, and said it was about time the firm removed the beta wrapper in order to be taken seriously by more businesses considering a shift to online apps away from Microsoft’s offline Office suite.

“We've come to appreciate that the beta tag just doesn't fit for large enterprises that aren't keen to run their business on software that sounds like it's still in the trial phase,” said Google’s Matthew Glotzbach in a blog post.

“So 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.”

Most surprising to many however will be the company’s decision to finally remove the beta tag from Gmail - the web email service released by Google half a decade ago.

Both enterprise and consumer versions of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk will have the beta tag removed today, said the internet kingpin.

Additionally Google announced some new Apps features, which it pitched directly at the enterprise crowd.

Email delegation is a new tool from Google that can be used by administrative support staff to send email on behalf of others.

Meanwhile, sys admins will be able to use an email retention tool that allows them to set up policies to work out when messages will be purged from the system. All of which is handy for IT types who are required to comply with regulations (such as Sarbanes Oxley), pointed out Google in a separate post.

Those two features remain at the testing phase with relevant customers. They will be rolled out to Premier edition domains over the coming weeks, said Google.

To get the ball rolling, Google is helpfully pointing big firms and little guys towards tools that, it says, easily enable them to ram its Apps Suite through the walls of Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes.

Whether Google's giant leap out of beta today means a shake-up of prices tomorrow remains to be seen, however.

Some wrongly reported earlier that Google had in fact killed off the free version of Google Apps altogether. But, for now at least, it lives to see another slow news day. ®

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