Beta Software

Dennis Faas's picture

When software is developed, it goes through a number of stages before it is officially released to the public. This document briefly explains this process.

Software Release Development Life Cycles

Pre-Alpha (Development)

Pre-alpha refers to all activities performed during the software project prior to testing. These activities can include requirements analysis, software design, software development and unit testing. Pre-alpha software is rarely ever released to the public.

Alpha (Developer Testing)

The alpha phase of the release life cycle is the first phase to begin Software testing. In this phase, developers generally test the software using multiple techniques. Alpha software can be unstable and could cause crashes or data loss. The alpha phase usually ends with a feature freeze, indicating that no more features will be added to the software. At this time, the software is said to be feature complete.

Beta Release and Beta Testing (Usability, Public Testing)

"Beta" is the software development phase following alpha, named after the Greek letter beta. It generally begins when the software is feature complete. The focus of beta testing is reducing impacts to users, often incorporating usability testing. The process of delivering a beta version to the users is called beta release.

The users of a beta version are called beta testers. They are usually customers or prospective customers of the organization that develops the software, willing to test the software for free or for a reduced price.

Beta version software is likely to be useful for internal demonstrations and previews to select customers. Some developers refer to this stage as a preview, a prototype, a technical preview (TP) or as an early access.

Open and Closed Beta (Selective Testing)

Developers release either a closed beta or an open beta; closed beta versions are released to a select group of individuals for a user test, while open betas are to a larger community group, usually the general public. The testers report any bugs that they found and sometimes minor features they would like to see in the final version.

Release Candidate (Final Stages of Release)

The term release candidate (RC) refers to a version with potential to be a final product, ready to release unless fatal bugs emerge. In this stage of product stabilization, all product features have been designed, coded and tested through one or more beta cycles with no known showstopper-class bug.

This document is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license.

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