Google Apps grows up with new ‘scheduled release’ option

What, you didn’t want that amazing new Gmail feature rolled out to your 5,000 employees without warning?

Google, doing its best to avoid situations like that — and to lure big companies away from Microsoft Office — this morning announced a new “scheduled release” option for IT departments that want some time to prepare for the rollout of new Google Apps features. Hang on to your hats, this is going to sound a little crazy.

“Customers on the Scheduled Release track gain access to new features on a regular, weekly release schedule following the initial release of those features. This delay allows time for administrators to familiarize themselves with new features using a test domain, educate support staff, and communicate any changes to their users. New features will be released on the Scheduled Release track each Tuesday, with at least a one-week notice following the initial feature launch.”

Of course, the really crazy thing is that they haven’t done this before. Microsoft, on the other hand, has traditionally gone to the other extreme, at times giving corporate customers years to prepare for new Microsoft Office features, although it has been stepping things up a bit with its new Office Web Apps.

Thankfully, some things never change. Here is Google’s obligatory cute video about the new system.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLWb9zUjQvc