When is beta done?

I realize that this entire beta-wave is a process of agile-development, but do others? It occurred to me that this craze just might be getting a little out of control. Just today we found all these sites with BETA subtly nestled into their logos.

http://www.biznik.com/
http://www.chicagoartistsresource.org/
http://podcasts.yahoo.com/
http://www.flickr.com/
http://www.writely.com/
http://www.kiko.com/
http://froogle.google.com/

Google at the very least gets some credit for starting this whole phenomenon, but they also are the most guilty of abusing it. How long has Froogle been live now? I can't tell you the exact date, but I can say it has been a long time. I for one have not seen many changes to the product. Based on this, I doubt it will come out of beta anytime soon.

So the question here is when does a product come out of beta? In the case of froogle, will it ever come out of beta? What really makes this product beta? Products go through a cycle: design, development, testing and feature addition and modification. This term beta means these steps are not totally complete. In today's world of web applications, most products are going to be constantly going through this cycle, regularly adding features that try to improve the product. Compare this method to the old Microsoft process of releasing a alpha, beta, and finally a finished product, which then just has security hole and bug fixes.

I'll finish saying this, I agree with the new process of agile development (beta software) and the philosophy that accompanies it. What I do not agree with is the labeling of beta to each and every new product that gets released. If something is being released to the masses, then just remove that silly addition to your logo. It has just gotten a little trite.