This Post is in Beta

By Deane Barker on November 28, 2005

For Some Technology Companies, ‘Beta’ Becomes a Long-Term Label: Here’s an article about the perpetual beta periods surrounding new services these days.

Few people would fly on an airline that advertised its planes had untested engines, or swallow a pill from a drug company that admitted the side effects were unknown. Yet when it comes to software, it seems consumers are much more adventurous.

[…] For years, the term “beta” referred to a relatively short period of testing by a select group of outsiders. These days, beta editions are not only released to the public, but also stay in that mode for months, or even years.

I was talking about this two years ago

Why do development teams do this? Is it so they can blow off bugs by saying, “Yeah, well, that’s still in beta” or “Well, it’s not even a 1.0 release yet.” I don’t get it.

For perspective, consider that Gmail is still in beta.

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Comments

  1. I don’t think this one is all about marketing. After all, in the open source community, software often takes FOREVER to get to a 1.0 release. You can’t say that that’s marketing. That’s making sure that all of the major bugs are worked out before calling it “done” for the version. I’m fairly certain that this is at least partially a motivation for companies, too. I mean, sure it’s an easy cop out to just say “it’s in beta” when bugs crop up, but isn’ t the purpose of a beta to make sure bugs don’t crop up in the main release? And, on web-based apps and utilities, isn’t the only way to truly test that to release it to vast hordes of people, testing scalability and many other things that you just can’t test in house?

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