Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

Software's perpetual beta

by Paul Jay, CBCNews.ca

Well, that didn't take long. Less than a day after IT consultant Capgemini said it would recommend Google Apps Premiere Edition (GAPE) for its business clients, a Microsoft email surfaces offering a top 10 "questions that enterprises should ask when considering the switch to GAPE."

Blogger Mary Jo Foley posted the list after receiving it via an emailed statement, attributable to a “corporate spokesperson," she writes. The list is here.

One criticism in particular stands out, in question No. 2:

"Google has a history of releasing incomplete products, calling them beta software, and issuing updates on a 'known only to Google' schedule – this flies in the face of what enterprises want and need in their technology partners – what is Google doing that indicates they are in lock step with customer needs?"

Say, isn't it patch Tuesday today?

It's true Google loves its perpetual beta testing - isn't Gmail still a beta? - but in some ways, this may be a more honest approach.

Opendemocracy.net's Becky Hodge has a great piece in the New Statesman on this very thing. As she writes:

"Perpetual beta" has thus emerged as a state of mind. As the Google philosophy supposedly goes, why tell your customers a product is finished when they might very well tell you how it could work better? Perpetual beta, as well as being a convenient apology for bugs and glitches (the BBC has recently justified its exclusion of Mac and Linux users from its on-demand TV service the iPlayer by claiming that "it's in beta"), invites your users to become co-developers.

At least with software, such co-operative sharing can be possible. Consider the plight of consumers buying the latest hardware. As my colleague Peter Nowak writes, "gadgets that cost hundreds of dollars are seemingly obsolete almost by the time they come out of the box."

His feature on instant obsolescence is here. It's good reading. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to upgrade my Moveable Type.

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.

Comments

Monkey

Winnipeg

I for one enjoy using non-stop betas, I like giving ideas to the creators on how to better the product and thus, upon it's final release, it will be more fine tuned...

I just can't stand having to reboot my computer every five minutes due to the updates though.

Although I don't mind doing that for my graphics drivers, muahaha more POWER!

Posted September 11, 2007 05:10 PM

Charles Witt

There is undoubtedly room for Google perpetual innovation on the computers of many end users and enterprises. Some will hold back. For example, my wife tried GMail and still prefers Yahoo Mail. Yet she still uses Google Documents and Google Chat and Google Search. Enterprises that are comfortable with evolving applications... and I believe there are plenty, will adopt Google Apps. Microsoft is spreading Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt to protect their market dominance.

Posted September 12, 2007 10:05 AM

mt

Ottawa

I'm not sure that the 'Beta' tag really means very much anymore. How many companies release software now without a 'user feedback' or 'problem reporting system' in place? It's all a part of the dynamically updating nature of network connected software. The only difference between Google and Microsoft is that Google is honest enough to admit that their software isn't perfect. Besides, I like the feeling of knowing that the software I am using is still be worked on by the original engineers - that they haven't stopped trying to improve it.

Posted September 12, 2007 10:48 AM

Chris

A great deal of software released these days is actually 'unfinished'. That is, there are always known bugs still to be resolved when the product goes out the door. These bugs can't all be fixed, as by the time this happens, the product wouldn't be useful or a competitor would already have a product on the market. You can thank the rapid pace of technological advancement for this problem.

So the real questions are: 1) how serious is the impact of these known bugs on the user experience, and 2) how does this affect the bottom-line?

If there are only marginal losses to the bottom-line, release! Otherwise, fix some of the 'show-stopper' bugs and then release.

In the end, it all comes down to how much inconvenience we the consumer will bear. My personal recommendation - don't buy software until after its first major patch!

Posted September 12, 2007 01:00 PM

Paul B.

Toronto

Google Mail has only been in beta since its inception. Now since you don't need an invitation anymore, they should get rid of that designation.

Makes Google look kind of incompetent.

Posted September 13, 2007 12:09 AM

Tim

Follow my lead: NEVER UPGRADE. You almost NEVER need to. If your business's needs evolve so (insanely?) fast that you actually can't use the current stuff past the next version increment, you need to stop using computers, or FIX that (insane!) business model. "Out of date" software less than a decade old is a problem only for companies that have made a terrible wrong turn sometime since the 1983 dawn of the MSFT-PC platform.

Upgrades introduce Costs, Delays, *BUGS* and Learning curves for little or no benefit, just a lot of pain and operational inefficiency.

Posted September 13, 2007 07:07 PM

Garet

Winnipeg

Many times upgrades are imperitive or beneficial. For example, tax programs take into account the latest changes in tax laws, so upgrading is a good idea.

Posted September 14, 2007 12:06 PM

Monkey

Winnipeg

Seeing as the idea of an upgrade or patch is to fix something, I don't think it would be called inefficient to have them.

Upgrades are there to better a system, as the name suggests, and there are never costs to upgrades or patches since you have already bought the initial product.

The only time you would have to pay any price whatsoever would be if you are switching to an entirely different system. i.e. Windows XP to Vista.

I for one need updates and upgrades because they keep my systems running properly on up-to-date coding and programming.

Businesses strive on technology, do you, Tim, suggest that businesses go back to pencil and paper? I'm sure they would go bankrupt before the end of the quarter.

Posted September 14, 2007 12:30 PM

Steve Smith

Toronto

Microsoft is the last company that should talk about other software being unready - Hello Windows 95???

Posted September 14, 2007 08:16 PM

Monkey

Winnipeg

Lets not forget Windows M.E. too Steve.

Posted September 17, 2007 12:10 PM

Hippo

Calgary

Or Win 98, or Win XP before SP2, or VIsta so far......

Posted September 19, 2007 01:19 AM

« Previous Post | Main | Next Post »

Post a Comment

Disclaimer:

Note: By submitting your comments you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that due to the volume of e-mails we receive, not all comments will be published, and those that are published will not be edited. But all will be carefully read, considered and appreciated.

Note: Due to volume there will be a delay before your comment is processed. Your comment will go through even if you leave this page immediately afterwards.

Privacy Policy | Submissions Policy

Story Tools: PRINT | Text Size: S M L XL | REPORT TYPO | SEND YOUR FEEDBACK

World »

CBC IN GREECE Living 'as a big family': Hotel housing project gives refugees a rare sense of hope
An abandoned Athens hotel that has been transformed into a refugee housing project is a rare bright spot in a crisis where hope is always fleeting, the CBC's Ellen Mauro writes from Greece.
New Filipino senator fears for her safety over opposition to President Duterte
Filipino Sen. Leila de Lima says the country's new strongman president Rodrigo Duterte has a “personal vendetta” against her and she fears for her safety.
Rural reboot: Salinas, Calif., turning crop pickers into computer programmers
Salinas, California, is known as the salad bowl of the world, but it also has one of the highest youth murder rates in the country. Now Salinas is trying a reboot, through a program that's turning the children of crop pickers into computer programmers.
more »

Canada »

What's next for Pacific NorthWest LNG project? 4 questions answered
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues have signed off on one of the largest energy infrastructure projects in the country's history but now attention turns to whether the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal will actually be built.
Analysis B.C. LNG project the latest Harper scheme to win Liberal nod
In green-lighting a massive natural gas project, the Liberals are approving a Stephen Harper scheme, and not for the first time. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asks, "Is this what you meant by real change?"
Exclusive Her husband's sex assault trial ended with a bizarre twist, so this woman went public
In 2014, 74-year-old Isabelle Raycroft accused her husband of sexual assault. But when the trial took a bizarre turn, she lost hope for justice. So Isabelle decided to follow the lead of women in the Jian Ghomeshi and Stanford rapist cases — and go public.
more »

Politics »

Conservatives took payroll training responsibilities away from Phoenix creator IBM
The Conservative government took payroll training responsibilities away from IBM in the lead up to the implementation of Phoenix. IBM says the former government requested the change in March of 2014. A lack of training has been cited as a root cause of the Phoenix fiasco.
Analysis B.C. LNG project the latest Harper scheme to win Liberal nod
In green-lighting a massive natural gas project, the Liberals are approving a Stephen Harper scheme, and not for the first time. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asks, "Is this what you meant by real change?"
What's next for Pacific NorthWest LNG project? 4 questions answered
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet colleagues have signed off on one of the largest energy infrastructure projects in the country's history but now attention turns to whether the Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal will actually be built.
more »

Health »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Arts & Entertainment»

Court bans publication of Pippa Middleton's hacked iCloud photos
A British judge on Wednesday banned the publication of stolen photographs of Pippa Middleton after allegations that 3,000 personal images were taken in a hacking attack on her iCloud account
Muslim journalist Noor Tagouri poses in a hijab for Playboy
Muslim journalist Noor Tagouri posed in a hijab for the October issue of Playboy, becoming the first woman to do so in the history of the magazine.
Garth Drabinsky sets 'Madame Sousatzka' musical for his Broadway comeback
Garth Drabinsky, the storied Canadian producer once imprisoned for fraud, is planning his Broadway comeback, with a new production of 'Madame Sousatzka' which will premiere in Toronto in February 2017.
more »

Technology & Science »

Rural reboot: Salinas, Calif., turning crop pickers into computer programmers
Salinas, California, is known as the salad bowl of the world, but it also has one of the highest youth murder rates in the country. Now Salinas is trying a reboot, through a program that's turning the children of crop pickers into computer programmers.
As a species, humans inherit murderous tendencies, says study
Evolution and genetics seem to have baked a certain amount of murder into humans as a species, but civilization has tamed some of the savage beast in us, according to a new study.
Photos Want to go to Mars? Here's what it looks like there
After SpaceX CEO Elon Musk updated the world on his ambitious plans to get humans to Mars within the next 10 years, here's a look at our best pictures to date of the Martian surface.
more »

Money »

Analysis What the Pacific NorthWest LNG decision could mean for Trans Mountain
After Ottawa's approval of the carbon-intensive Pacific NorthWest LNG plant, it will be harder for the Liberals to say no to two coming pipeline decisions. Or is it different for oil?
TSX and loonie higher as oil climbs on OPEC deal
An agreement by OPEC to cut oil production helped push oil prices, along with the loonie and the S&P/TSX Composite Index, higher on Wednesday.
BlackBerry to outsource smartphone manufacturing from now on
BlackBerry says it plans to end all internal hardware development — signalling a strategic shift for a company that built its reputation on innovative smartphone technology created at its base in Waterloo, Ont.
more »

Consumer Life »

Sorry - we can't find that page
 
CBC.ca

Sorry, we can't find the page you requested.

  1. Please check the URL in the address bar, or ...
  2. Use the navigation links at left to explore our site, or ...
  3. Enter a term in the Quick Search box at top, or ...
  4. Visit our site map page

In a few moments, you will be taken to our site map page, which will help you find what you looking for.

more »

Sports »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Recap Blue Jays blow late lead as Orioles tighten AL playoff race video
Pinch-hitter Hyun Soo Kim hit a two-run homer off Roberto Osuna in the ninth inning as the Baltimore Orioles came back for a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Rogers Centre.
Poll Who is Blue Jays' best option as wild-card starter?
If the Major League Baseball season ended Wednesday, the Toronto Blue Jays would finish atop the AL wild-card standings and host a winner-take-all playoff game on Oct. 4. In that scenario, which of their starting pitchers is most deserving of getting the call?
Sidney Crosby cementing place as 'best player of his generation'
Canada's captain Sidney Crosby has been the strongest player at the World Cup of Hockey, proving his elite status in the best-on-best tournament.
more »

Diversions »

[an error occurred while processing this directive]
more »