The popular way today to release software without accountability is to toss it into the wild as a “Beta Test” — and then invite the public to break their machines to give you feedback in testing you should’ve done yourself.

Google made their bones on this unaccountability by continuously “beta testing” what are really fully released products. 

Google does not have to provide support or explanation when things go awry or blow up because, after all, “It’s only beta!”

The question then becomes how long must something remain in beta in order to be tested and not viewed as taking-advantage-of those doing the testing?  Is a year enough of a beta test?  Two years?

Gmail has been in beta since April 1, 2004.  Will Gmail forever be beta?  Or will Gmail one day get the Google stamp of approval that it is ready to stand on its own without the beta backdoor bailout?

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