By insisting on keeping key Apps components in beta, Google has been playing into the hands of competitors, which have gladly used the beta issue to argue that the suite wasn't ready for prime time, Cain said.

"One could ask why it took Google so long to get rid of the beta label," he said.

The decision probably followed an intense debate inside Google, which the pragmatists in the Enterprise group ultimately won, since they are the ones who have to hit the street and try to sell Apps to senior IT executives, Cain said.

Gmail, Calendar, Docs and Talk are also losing their beta tags as stand-alone services for consumers.

Google has been trying hard to lure large businesses to Apps since the introduction of the Premier version of the suite in February 2007, and has accelerated those efforts recently with enhancements like offline access for Gmail, support for BlackBerry devices and a synchronization plug-in for Outlook.

"We've been knocking down barriers one by one for enterprise adoption of Apps Premier," Glotzbach said.

The company is now seeing on average one large company adopting Apps Premier per week, Glotzbach said. Google defines a large Apps account as one with 1,000 or more Premier seats.

On Tuesday, Google is announcing another such customer win. Fairchild Semiconductor is moving about 5,500 end users in 18 offices worldwide from Lotus Notes to Apps Premier, which costs US$50 per user, per year.

In the coming weeks, Premier customers will get e-mail delegation capabilities, which come in handy when assistants need access to executives' mailboxes to deal with messages on their bosses' behalf.

Another new feature to be delivered in a matter of weeks will be the ability for administrators to set up e-mail retention policies, which is important in particular for companies that need to comply with regulations regarding document storage and retention.

On the back end, Google is boosting the reliability of Apps, which is a hosted software suite. Google is implementing "live replication of data" among its data centers which will result in "near instant disaster recovery," according to a Google statement.