Dear Google (beta)

Stop labelling all your software as ‘beta’.

Beta software is unfinished, not-quite-ready software that is released to users for testing before its official release. Just because you plan to make further changes to it later does not mean it is ‘unfinished’, it just means that you plan to release a revised version later.

When you label your software which is ready for normal use as ‘beta’, and then leave it in ‘beta’ for years at a time, you devalue the term. You lead the public to believe that beta software is ready for them to use on a daily basis with no problems. This means that they will request that I install lots of actual beta software, and complain when I refuse on the basis that it will destabilise their computer and crash on a regular basis.

My message to you is this: grow up.

Just because you can’t be bothered to support your software properly, and want to get away with it by claiming it’s ‘in beta’ doesn’t mean you get to mangle an established technical term for your own means. Your actions (and not just about this) are hacking off system administrators worldwide and making our jobs harder for no reason than expanding your own market share. Stop talking the talk by bleating your arrogant and hypocritical ‘Don’t be evil’ motto, and actually start walking the walk.

Love and kisses,
AngryTechnician

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About The Angry Technician

The Angry Technician is an experienced IT professional in the UK education sector. Normally found in various states of annoyance on his blog. All views are those of his imaginary pet dog, Howard.

4 responses to “Dear Google (beta)”

  1. mr smith says :

    Oh that gets a good high score on the rant-o-meter.

    I see where you are coming from; they could be accused of using the term ‘beta’ as a marketing tool to say “essentially you can trust us and this will work for you, but don’t come running if it doesn’t work, because we are giving cutting-edge enterprise features to you for free, and we don’t even off premium paid options”.

    On the other hand, [repeats last bit of previous sentence in third person]

    Also, there is no precedent set for how long a piece of software can be in beta, and technically it’s the really stupid people who start bleating about things, and the cool coders bringing us new technologies who are cool.

    Are you talking about yesterday’s announcement that Google have released (limited) Exchange support for mobile devices? I blogged about that…

  2. mr smith says :

    By “off” I of course meant “offer”… /can’t type

  3. AngryTechnician says :

    I was referring to Google Earth. Big announcements recently about version 5.0 being released. It’s a ‘beta’. The previous version, 4.3, was released as a ‘beta’ in July 2008 and never left ‘beta’ – they just skipped straight to the ‘beta’ of a new major version.

  4. mr smith says :

    Okay, fair point. That is just dumb. Google Earth is pretty old now.

    Also, I could be persuaded that beta software should only be released to people who sign up to something, (i.e. create an account and promise to post feedback, not just agree to a T&C on a freely available download)…