Users have heard these terms like “beta software”, “beta versions” and “beta releases” before various times. From the last couple of years, these different versions of beta were not very common. But nowadays they are very popular among people. Users can find beta releases anywhere without much struggle. It includes video games, web apps, music players, operating systems etc. It is important to know the actual meaning and significance when we consider a project to be in beta. Why should users suppose to give it so much value?
In simple words, the expression “beta” exemplifies the development of a particular product and its various stages. For a better comprehension, I would like to make a comparison between the life process of insects. Which usually goes through numerous stages like eggs, larva, pupa, and adult. When we talk about the development of a product. They go through according to the same pattern we explained above as insects like pre-alpha, alpha, beta, and release candidate.
The management of the “alpha/beta” characterization started years ago to IBM, probably in the 1950s.
Users would probably know about the developmental process of software before. But in this article, we will explore it in detail. What is the meaning of these diverse terminologies that are used in the whole processing of software? What you can desire to assume from a product in all these contrasting stages.
Definition of Beta Software:
The beta software version is actually a pre-release of software. Which is coming out for a large group of users to test using real conditions. Beta versions have proceeded during alpha phase testing inhouse and are generally somewhat close in feel, function and look to the final product.
Purpose of Beta Software:
The first and foremost purpose of Beta software is to test the quality of production and highlight the problems. They are sometimes called bugs. Permitting to beta testers to try out software and give feedback to the developer is the best way through which a program can get some real-life experience and also to check and recognize how it will work when it’s out of beta. Like any other regular software, the beta software works with all the other instruments that a PC or device is currently utilizing, which is often the whole point behind it, in simple words to test harmony.
Beta testers are supposed to give as many reviews as they can about the quality of beta software. Like what sort of crashes are happening, in case the beta software or other parts of their system or device are not working properly according to the routine etc.
The beta testing review can include bugs and other problems that testers face while checking its quality, but most of the time it’s also a possibility for the developer to make recommendations for characteristics and other ideas like how can the quality of software be improved.
Reviews can be given through different methods; it depends on the developer’s request or the nature of the software that’s being tested. This can also add social media, built-in contact tool email, and/or a web forum.
Another common reason someone downloads something on purpose that’s in the beta stage only to check the newer and modified updated software. In place of waiting for the final version of the release, a user could install the beta version of a program, like to see all the new aspects and advancements that will make it better into the final release.
Closed Beta Software:
Like other software which is available for downloading or buying from different sources but all Beta Software not available to download or to use this version of beta software must require an invitation or special permission from the developers. Some companies release their software only for the Testing purpose. Such Beta Software call Close Beta Software.
Open Beta Software:
This version of Beta Software is free of cost and anyone can download without any permission or invitation from the developers. Therefore, it is called open beta or public beta software.
Stages of Beta Software:
There are Four stages of Beta Software which are given below.
1. The Pre-Alpha Phase:
The first stage of the development of this whole process is Pre-Alpha Phase. It is the segment of advancement that happens before users would be capable of testing its initial stage. There is no doubt about it that project or scheme that is organized systematically will always test products before introducing them in the market, so we assume that it’s better to say that the pre-alpha phase of development indicates towards everything that occurs in the processing before the official stage of testing starts.
This stage covers a lot of activities that have variety in them like data collection, requirement analysis, software engineering, market research, documentation, and software design. For most users that would be innovative, as it gives you a detailed concept of how much work is done even before the finalization of the development of a product. From this detailed description, users can clearly imagine that this stage is the most significant phase of the development of any product as it depends on the initial decision making.
What can users expect from Pre-Alpha Software?
In case a company or developer determines to introduce pre-alpha software to the public, you should not expect much from it. A creative block-building sandbox game Minecraft introduced pre-alpha versions named “Indev” that were not good in quality, have limited traits, and easy to be corrupted. Public pre-alpha releases are mostly for advertisement and marketing but at times a developer will release them for not any specific reason.
2. The Alpha Phase:
It starts when a product has been made more than enough and it would be necessary to go it through from official phase of testing. Because of this characteristic, users must have heard the term “alpha testing phase” used for it. It was originated from the first Greek alphabet alpha. Alpha Phase Testing determines to test a product to know about the technicalities and the very essence of the product. It also confirms that the most basic functions are working exactly the way they should. It’s not a detailed testing stage; neither does it focus on polish while an alpha test.
As alpha testing isn’t exclusive in its nature, it is mostly done at home. We can also say that the people who are working on alpha tests are most probably those who are already connected with the project in one way or another.
Expectations from Alpha Software:
Same as pre-alpha software. Users will face exactly the same issues including bugs and corrupt files. But its characteristics and aspects are detailed that highlights what the final product might look like. The alpha software also contributes to being operational but not appealing as many assets have been committed to the quantity of production, not on the quality of processing.
3. The Beta Phase:
We are now moving towards the third step of the development of software that is called beta testing phase. It is the most creative type of non-release software out there. You are probably able to assume till now that when a product enters beta testing. Then all of the basic phases of operations have been applied to it practically. As it clears alpha testing requirements. Beta is the second alphabet of the Greek alphabet.
Fun fact: Alpha-beta is where we all get this term alphabet.
The beta phase starts when a product drives from “operative but appalling” to “refined and ready to utilize.” In this stage all the previous defects are resolved, features are improved for the sake of its high demand, the interface and graphics have also improved their quality, and performance issues are moving towards advancement. Except that beta testing happens as the third phase in the process of development of software, it can also be considered as the most time consuming and longest phase because there are so many sides left to test.
The beta phase is commonly started. When a developer initiates a product with those who are not interlinked with the development of the process. Closed beta is a release that was done for a certain time period. Where only those who are in the position to take access can test the software. On the other hand, an open beta or public beta is a free (as in liberty) release that permits everyone, so users can install and use it.
The expectation from Beta Software:
You can count a beta product to be “feature complete”. It means to say that everything that’s need to be in the final product is going towards finalization. You can face some defects and that break particular sections of the product. But it would be out of the ordinary that you will find complicated issues that needed to be solved on urgent basis. Beta software has gone through modification from a lot of times, except some minor bugs and updates.
4. The Release Candidate Phase:
The name refers that a release candidate is a final step in the process of development cycle before actually introducing a product as finished. At times the term can be implemented on a specific patch or update to an already existed product. We can say that the release candidate is a version that’s almost finished or completed. But needs to go through from more testing to end final bugs. To resolve the issues for the ultimate solution of the software.
Expectations of users from Release Candidate Software:
There are many developers who skip over the release candidate step. So, in that case, you find software that’s in the release candidate stage. You might probably think that it would be the best version of it. Many times, the logo and design are just there for the sake of denial. Which you can face one or two prominent but occasionally occurred bug. But according to my experience, this version of the software was released for the candidates. Just keep in mind some genuine approach according to the needs and requirements of users.
It is very important for the users to have some knowledge that how about the technicalities of a product while utilization. It would be beneficial for those who know how to operate different software and tackle them in need of trouble.