Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Software Programming IT Technology

Are Betas Taking On Lives of Their Own? 270

Ant writes "CNET's Paul Festa thinks the final stage of software development, beta versions, are taking on a life of their own, as companies tinker endlessly with their products in public according to a recent article. Google is one of the companies that keep using "beta" term for years for its products."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Are Betas Taking On Lives of Their Own?

Comments Filter:
  • agreed (Score:5, Funny)

    by qewl ( 671495 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:15AM (#11657779)
    It's a bad idea to put two male betas in the same bowl as they WILL fight to the death..
    • Re:agreed (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MasterSLATE ( 638125 )
      we did that 2 years ago in freshman year in college. we had 4 fish, each fought, 1 on 1 until mine was crowned champion. We filmed it too. It was great.
  • GMail (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ( 858900 )
    GMail is still "beta" yet I haven't seen in forever any new changes. Also, I don't think they would have released so many invites if they were still seriously working on it. You don't let that huge of a population use something that is truly still "beta."
    • Re:GMail (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BagOBones ( 574735 )
      I have only been using it for about 6 months and in that time the only change I have seen is that the contact manager became much more detailed. Allowing more than one address per contact as well as several custom fields.

      They also added pop3 support.

      Define forever and how long it should take to roll new features out to the public using the proper development cycle of design, coding, testing and release?
    • Re:GMail (Score:3, Informative)

      by EyeMyke ( 683581 )
      IIRC, betas are mainly used for bug fixing, not for new features, that's mainly a pre-beta thing.
    • The answer. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mboverload ( 657893 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @05:14AM (#11658031) Journal
      When you are in beta you are invincible. When someone claims that it is beta, they can tell you to shove it because it's "BETA SOFTWARE!" Even if you complain some troll will also point out that it's "BETA SOFTWARE!".

      Beta prevents the need for support but allows you to sell/release your product. This is a dream as it prevents those damn leeches called "consumers" from harassing them.

    • Re:GMail (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rawb ( 529039 )
      >>You don't let that huge of a population use something that is truly still "beta." I used to play a game called Dragon Realms, stared as an AOL game, then went to the web. It's been around a good 12 years now and it's still in "beta". Hell, they were even making $12/month from all the customers... who were paying for a beta service. They even got some to fork over $40/month for 'premium' or 'platinum' or some other such nonesense... Did they play a more finished version of the game? Nope. They just
    • Re:GMail (Score:2, Insightful)

      On the contrary, I think they have opted to test with a larger sample size. I don't exactly see how more users equates to no new work, I think that its much harder work to compensate for a drastically larger userbase and face all of their collective reactions to the service, not to mention how it will affect the software. (Although its likely their wealth is enough to make sure that serverload is virtually negligible) I am, admittedly, -totally- unqualified to guess at the google master plan, or even specu
  • God I hate that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Proc6 ( 518858 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:16AM (#11657791)
    ICQ was like that (I dont know if it still is, I haven't used it for years.). They'd just be in permanent beta. What a cop out. Grow a set and put a "release" stamp on it, bugs and all. Works for Microsoft.
    • As ICQ counted down the seconds to release "in 3..2..1" ardent enemies postpone event by screaming "I call bullshit." No word yet on whether the popular chat software will ever be officially released or whether proc6's head has exploded from this offensive post.

      More news at 5:00.

  • In an hour (Score:5, Funny)

    by mrshoe ( 697123 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:19AM (#11657807) Homepage
    I'll post the final version of my comment. This one is still in beta.
  • it's just my Beta... Look for my release candidate post next month. Final release date hasn't been determined yet.
  • by DNS-and-BIND ( 461968 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:20AM (#11657814) Homepage
    The old style of perpetual beta was lazy, perfectionistic, or excessively cautious programmers simply going on and on towards v1.0 and never reaching it. Not enough work was done - typical of the lazy programmer. It's never "good enough" to call v1.0, typical of the perfectionist view, despite the fact that the program has been out in general use for years.

    Now, we have the new perpetual beta. Any company can, with a wave of the magic wand, make itself blameless when its software doesn't work. "But it's in beta!" they gleefully shout when you tell them about something that doesn't work correctly. "Refer it to our testing team, who will ignore your report."

    • by NoSCO ( 858498 )
      I am a software developer in my spare time, and I try wherever possible to stick to my defined release guidelines, e.g. 2 or 3 pre-alpha releases (usually for other people to read the code and make some suggestions), then a true alpha release that should mostly work for all platforms. That will be out for about a month all the while making improvements for the upcoming beta release. I will generally make 2 beta releases (bar any major bugs/security problems!) and then release version 1.0. The whole process
    • And as a customer I don't buy any beta software. Use it for free? You betchya. That's why I love perpetual beta's. I get the software for free. Perpetual beta's that cost money? Sorry, but I'll go to your competitor.
    • Google top management says "beta" means only that major changes are still expected. The term doesn't mean any more to them than that, since they don't have releases like shrinkwrap/OEM software developers do.
    • Actually, I like it. Let it be Beta.
      It doesn't only mean "if it has a bug, it's not our fault". It also means "if it has a bug, report it and we'll try to fix it ASAP."

      Get a Final. Don't expect bugfixes till next major number beta, unless you want to backport patches from CVS tree yourself.
      Get a Beta. Expect bugfixes before next Beta and certainly before Final.

      Or, get a Beta and know it's NOT granted to work flawlessly and suitable for production environment. Give it a try, but don't use it for anything i
    • Many of the free software projects I follow have a big problem making releases. They cultivate a nice little community around the CVS version, and never get around to the boring job of making a release. Especially as this also often require a feature stop and other stuff that creates internal friction.

      Of course, non-commercial free software have no obligation for anything than having fun, but I think it is a shame that lots of cool stuff out there never get out to the larger community. And even free sof
  • Fear of commitment (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:20AM (#11657815)
    It's a simple case of fear of commitment (or litigation). If a product is beta, you don't have to really support it, and if it breaks it's really no big deal. It is, after all, a beta version.

    Once you make the jump to release versions then suddenly everything has to run (nearly) perfectly and any issues need to be properly dealt with. Perpetual beta has it's advantages in that you simple don't deal with these problems. Or you don't deal with them formally, but you do fix them.

    Google News is stuck in beta because Google can and will be sued the instant they start trying to make money (via text ads or something) off other sites headlines and stories.
    • Syndication (Score:3, Informative)

      by cyberformer ( 257332 )
      Google has already struck deals with some news sites regarding registration: The NY Times likes getting traffic from Google News, and so it lets people who click on the Google links read the stories withotu registering.

      Similar deals could prevent lawsuits: News sites who want to get linked to would have to agree not to sue for copyright infringement when Google summarizes their stories. (I'm referrring only to Google News itself, of course: Cutting a deal with a search engine shouldn't affect a site's rank
  • by Halcyon-X ( 217968 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:23AM (#11657824)
    I agree that selling software actually labeled as beta is a bad idea, but don't we already pay for software that require constant patching, such as the latest release versions of Windows, Microsoft Office, and nearly all of the latest games? Does release software even live up to the quality expected?
    • If you can see there is progress happening on the beta, and some prospect of eventually making it to 1.0, then that's fine. Xine and Gaim are good examples of this. But when they call it beta and just leave it like that, it's pure laziness.
    • so? that's the whole point why the 'beta' word is useless in an ALREADY RELEASED PRODUCT.

      how can a product that's used by millions and millions be "pre-release"? it's just a sham. and people really fall for it, using the flawed product without complaining about annoying bugs.. because it's "beta".
    • Does release software even live up to the quality expected?

      Well, in many cases it seems so, as there isn't outrages when e.g. Starcraft 1.12 is released, or when a Windows/Office Service Pack is released. Sometimes they cross the line though when people feel it's a bit too much, but it's hard to draw a line.
    • If it *never* (or even "rarely") lives up to the "quality expected", then perhaps the problem is with the expectation, no?

      Product release cycles are well understood. Modern computer programs are too complex (and, occasionally, market-driven) to get 100% right on the first go. So, the reasonable expectation is to expect a release followed by patches that fix issues that are discovered in due course.

      Since this applies to virtually all software, either built by "incompetent" microsoft or (in analogue) "r

    • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @02:12PM (#11660514) Homepage Journal
      You are quite correct. The truth is that the Google's "beta" software is really production quality. I've used (hell, I've helped release) "final" versions that had more kinks than Google Maps.

      "Beta" is just a word, and Google is using it to play the "Underpromise and Overdeliver" game.

  • Most of googles products, except for searching of course, deserve nothing more than "Beta" status. They are like me, they start great, impress people, but never finish the dang project and fail to realize potential. Froogle or Google News anyone?
  • Google's different (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Google's kind of more following the open source philosophy of "if it's 1.0, that means something". Just open source projects use 0.* version numbers and Google says "beta". None of this Microsoft crap of releasing something half finished as 1.0 and tinkering and maybe by version 3.1 it will be usable. No, Google is going with the idea that if you say it's done, [i]it's actually done.[/i] But in the meantime that isn't any reason to stop you from using it.
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )
      no, google is NOT different in this regard.

      they're EVEN WORSE.

      pretending that it's invite only for example - when in reality _everyone_ can have an invite(and they want everyone to have, viral marketing).
  • Is that most programs end up in the "beta" stage. There's only enough incentive to get a program working to do whatever you needed it to do, and then move on.

    I myself am guilty of this, having written a fairly ingenious program that compresses the N64 rom set by about 60% (compressors likw zip/winrar only seem to get about 15%). After which I never really got it polished enough for the average joe to use.

    • Just out of curiosity, what was it that you were needing to compress the rom files beyond a couple of percent?
    • Is that most programs end up in the "beta" stage. There's only enough incentive to get a program working to do whatever you needed it to do, and then move on.

      Really? A quick look at sourceforge [] shows 14799 projects in beta, while there are a total of 38186 projects in a pre-beta state. Compare that to the 13509 total projects in a post-beta state. Most telling, the largest single development status is Planning, with 15049 projects in that state. Making the assumption that sourceforge is representati

  • Of Course! (Score:2, Funny)

    by kaje103 ( 828985 )
    You beta believe it..
  • by Donny Smith ( 567043 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:25AM (#11657846)
    >Google is one of the companies that keep using "beta" term for years for its products

    You can't claim the other way around doesn't work either.

    Microsoft has been shipping beta-quality products as "Final Release" for years and they've done sooo well for themselves!

    P.S. I don't really think so, it's just a joke.
  • by DingerX ( 847589 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:27AM (#11657856) Journal
    From the article:
    Once considered the final stage of software development, beta versions ...

    The beta version, named for the second letter of the Greek alphabet, typically refers to the second stage of software testing. Traditionally distributed to a limited group of testers, it follows the alpha version, which is tested in the lab.

    What little training I had seemed to involve code existing in four stages of development, and beta was the second:

    Alpha: the phase in the development cycle where code first comes into being. Subsystems are being built, and testing takes place on the that (subsystem) level.
    Beta: the phase in the cycle where all subsystems are nominally in place, and testing occurs on the system level; not everything works, and features may be added, but we're looking at the whole code.
    Final: features are locked down, the system is tested in the form it intends to be released. I believe, under the influence of someone like Microsoft, this is now referred to as "Release Candidate" stage.
    Released: The software has been distributed.

    On the other hand, this article implies another notion of software development stages, one that I see applied rather frequently:

    Alpha: Testing done in house.
    Beta: Product released to a group of testers who aren't in-house QA specialists.

    So does someone have the answer? What the hell do these terms mean, and are they useful any more?
    • Hrmm, if you want to mix things up a bit.

      Alpha: Unit Testing: The thing that programmers do constantly. Instant gratification in the sense that you know that your code works as you planned it would.

      Beta: System Testing: Usually pushed off onto the client, because you just KNOW that it's not your code that screwed up, it's the programmer x's buggy code!
    • by Yaztromo ( 655250 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @05:03AM (#11657987) Homepage Journal
      So does someone have the answer? What the hell do these terms mean, and are they useful any more?

      I've always had a (slightly) different definition (and number of letters) for the various "greek letter" status elements (which I use in my Open Source project, the jSyncManager []):

      1. alpha - A work in progress which is feature incomplete.
      2. beta - the product is now feature complete, and requires rigourous testing.
      3. gamma - All bugs found in the beta phase have been fixed, with a last opportunity to detect any problems with the fixes themselves (effectively what others call the "Release Candidate").
      4. final - Done like dinner. Package it up and get it into the hands of customers.

      The problem I run into isn't the never-ending beta -- it's the never-ending alpha stage :P. A big part of this tends to have to do with trying to fit in user requests for enhancement, and simply not having the time nor manpower to get it all done in a timely manner (as we're not a project that attracts a lot of developers willing to contribute to the core). Our beta phases tend to be fairly short, in large part because once we hit beta, we've typically hit a feature freeze as well, and are only going to fix bugs.

      IMO, if it's not feature complete, you have no right calling it a "beta", as much of your high-level testing is going to be useless if you're going to be adding code during the beta phase. Adding new features effectively "resets" the status back to the beginning of "beta" -- making the term effectively meaningless.

      But I guess I'm just old fashioned that way...


      • Your definition is the way I originally learned the terms too. People often have trouble understanding these definitions - particularly the fact that beta is feature complete. They don't get that if you're making suggestions at beta time, you're way too late. That's what the alpha stage is for.

        The way I sometimes put it is: "If you test your beta, and you can't find any bugs, then that's what you ship."

        That never happens of course, but it gets the point across :)
    • This beta thing is just one aspect of version numbering nonesense.

      I think the best you can hope for with version numbering is that you will see some consistency between products produced by the same organisation. One company's beta is another's version 6.3.2.

      Open source projects generally care less about pushing up the version number (marketing droids tend to affect version numbers more than product features).

      Unfortunately PHB's haven't yet figured out that what matters is not the version number, bu

    • At a large gaming company I used to work at that I'll call Evil Alliance, the definitions were:

      First testable build
      All assets/features are in, but may not be working as designed.

      All assets are in game and functioning as designed
      All bugs in database are addressed, but not necessarily fixed. Some may be marked as KS, "Known, Shippable."

      Ready for final checklist reviews (Sony TRC/XBox TCR/Nintendo Standards, EA "Customer Quality Control" checklists)

      Naturally, in practice this kind of fall
    • It used to be much simpler than that, with just three pretty clear phases for testing and QA.

      Obviously you start with your in-house testing, hopefully a constant background activity as you write new code. This is just routine development activity, and might include unit testing, regression testing, and more. A lot of this will be done locally on specific areas of the software.

      As you reach the end of the new feature development for your coming release, you bring everything together to build a complete ve

  • Lower expectations (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Duncan3 ( 10537 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:32AM (#11657871) Homepage
    If you lower expectations enough, you don't have to spend any money do to the last 10% of development that takes 90% of the time.

    It's so very modern :)
  • Mac OS X 10.0 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by istewart ( 463887 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:34AM (#11657882)
    Anybody who lived through it will know what I'm talking about. I ran Public Beta as my primary OS from its introduction till the 10.0 release, and for $100 I didn't get much of an improvement.

    All has been forgiven since then, though. :)
  • Contractual? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:40AM (#11657905)
    I've heard (I admit I don't know how reliable the info is, so this is typical Slashdot gossip) that a lot of google features remain "beta" so they don't have to deliver them to certain technology alliance subscribers. Ever.
  • Imagine if a new rollercoaster opened downtown, and they offered free rides. One day, the rails break, and twenty people die - however, the company that built the railroad takes no blame, as the riders were simply "testing" a "beta" of the rollercoaster, and thus knew full well something like this could have happened. Yes, extremist. Same train of thought, however.
  • The good 'ol days... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by code65536 ( 302481 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:48AM (#11657933) Homepage Journal
    Whatever happened to the good old days when users *expected* version 1 to be the unstable version and that version 2 or 3 is when the good stuff comes out? In the time it took for Phoenix/Fire(bird|fox) finally exited beta, Netscape had gone from version 1 to version 2 to version 3... anyway, my thoughts on this...

    1/ Overuse of betas will lead to a diminishing of the meaning of beta. Favorite examples would be ICQ and Firefox. I used Firefox since 0.6, and it's worked beautifully for me ever since. But *despite the fact that it worked fine enough to serve as my primary browser*, it was considered beta. As more and more people discover this little fact that "beta doesn't really mean beta" then its meaning will diminish. Next thing we know, we'll be talking about long alpha periods.

    2/ The versioning system is supposed to give people a good idea of what kinds of changes there have been. The use of beta names diminishes and distorts that. Once again, I return to Firefox. The amount of changes made between 0.6 and 1.0 of FF is tremendous. Based on what is seen on paper, it was more substantial than what 1.0->1.5 would be. With perpetual betas, people have that magical 1.0 barrier that they can't break. So there is a compression and thus distortion of version numbering.

    3/ It's a cute new way to push aside blame. Well, it's a beta product, so if it's broke, it's not our fault. Of course, there are time when this *should* have been used (and not used), like Netscape 6. But it's being overused.

    4/ This is just pure nostalgia, but I miss the good old days when version numbers would leap ahead and people would be in anticipation of exciting new features. Now, version numbers creep from beta1 to beta2 to beta3 and while there are still cool and exciting changes, they seem marginalized.

    I strongly believe that betas should be used for things that are legitimately under development. As soon as it's stable enough that the developer would feel comfortable with using it on a regular basis without it completely blowing up, it's 1.0. Save the perfection and endless tweaking and bugfixing for 1.1 or 2.0; I have yet to see a perfect 1.0, even if eons of time have been funneled into perfection.
    • I agree that "beta" no longer means what it used to. I remember when you had to be someone special to get a beta version of a program, back when my friends would come over and say, "Guess what I managed to get my hands on?" and they'd be waving around a beta version of some popular product and we'd all go, "Wow, how did you manage that?"

      However, I also remember the days when a "syndicated" television program meant network reruns. A show that was original in syndication would have confused everyone.

      So alth

    • Generally speaking, Beta seems to have meant, and still mean: "We will not attempt to maintain backward compatibility to any version with Beta in its name"

      Once you release a 1.0 version, you should be maintaining 1.x versions to fix problems - severe breakage should be limited to the 2.0Beta stream.

      Of course the end user doesn't get to see this, and with Open Source software there's usually no limitation on who gets to use it - but I don't see it as a problem as long as this basic difference is maintained
  • by jann ( 253364 )
    if you do not charge for it and people still rely on it you may still be liable (in negligance) if it does not work.

    If it is in "beta" there is one further barrier that someone must jump over to successfully sue you.


    BTW IAAL and I know I can't spell
  • by segmond ( 34052 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @04:54AM (#11657959)
    what's the big deal?! I have used programs that were very functional that never reached version 1. But I was happy, so what it's version 0.8, it met all my needs! Better than the version 5.5 that doesn't!

  • to a computer scientist, a hacker is someone who tinkers with access to a supposedly secure system, for not necessarily malicious intent... in fact, such testing of the defenses can even be construed as beneficial

    to the general public, a hacker is tantamount to an online terrorist, period

    to a computer scientist, p2p is an evolving paradigm, where everything from spare processor cycles to segments of larger files that can be reassembled on the fly can be traded to amplify the power of the internet

    to the general public, p2p is where you get free music, period

    to a computer scientist, beta connotes a program that isn't ready for final release yet

    to the general public, beta connotes an offering from a large computer company/ gateway portal that is just unsupported

    now some may see these changing word definitions as some sort of repugnant dumbing down of vital concepts, concepts important to areas of endeavour that some care passionately about, and they resent it

    but i assert, from the standpoint of a realist, that since the internet is a phenomenon whose impact reaches beyond the realm of ivory tower computer scientists, such a dumbing down effect of certain terms previously secluded to the realm of computer science is just inevitable, unavoidable, and shouldn't be a reason for any reaction except a rolling of the eyes and maybe some laughter

    all words evolve in terms of meaning and usage over time, and computer scientists, even if they invented the terminology, don't own word definitions
    • to the general public, beta connotes an offering from a large computer company/ gateway portal that is just unsupported

      That's not true. There are just two big examples of moronic developers who don't have the courage to call things properly. It's Google and Mirabilis. Other companies usually use it properly. E.g. I am typing this from Opera 8 Beta. I expect the final version 8 to be released in a few months. Meanwhile the beta is not available from the main page (only from snapshots server and opera newsg
    • to a computer scientist, a hacker is someone who tinkers with access to a supposedly secure system

      Hehe, it appears the word's meaning has been so lost and distorted that even those who would defend it and correct its misuse are confused.

      The Jargon File defines hacker [] thoroughly for those who really want to know what it means. Or what it meant, anyway, before it escaped the obscurity of hackerdom and entered mainstream use as a label for someone who breaks into computer systems.

  • I think betas are very nice fish and we should recognize that they do have a life of their own. And we shouldn't make them spend it in those little glass jars with stinky water.
  • by Dorm41Baggins ( 858984 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @05:28AM (#11658071)
    It would seem even Slashdot is caught up in the Beta craze. m2000 []

  • Alpha, beta, gamma

    0.1 - 0.5 - 1.0 - 1.1.1

    Why aren't just the dates (and perhaps even hours) when the software was build, used as version name?

  • The article largely faults Google, Mozilla, and other recent products, but IMHO, Microsoft are as much to blame as anyone.

    A Microsoft "beta" is more of an early alpha or first-run-able release put out for marketing purposes. Certainly not a feature-complete release needing bug-fixes, as the beta tag normally suggests.

    This is typically followed by a number of "release candidates," which Microsoft ships for months or even YEARS before the product is finalized and boxed. The industry traditionally conside
  • by Fjornir ( 516960 )
    Still, I'm glad I'm not an alpha.
  • Personally, I don't mind Google's services being labelled as beta. That's great, it gives them tiem to iron out bugs whilst being sure that nobody mistakes them for final, finished products.

    The problem arises when people shipping software release a product that isn't final. Most software companies do it. Many games are barely of beta quality. It used to be that it was rare for a product to require a patch. Now many software products that I buy require a patch to even work at all.

    The thing that I object to
  • 1. Most beta is free. gmail for instance rocks and is free.... do I care if they call it beta?

    2. If more than 1% of the software you use on your computer is in it's first "release" and has zero bugs in it. Please let me know.

    Maybe people are just too quick to get a "version" out? I do my software in increments of 0.01 that way when I hit 1.00 chances are the software is very stable.

    I think the larger problem is simply abandonware specially on exotic stuff like say a GBC cart flasher program made in
  • Come on ! I prefer something already pretty stable to be called 'beta' that something potentially buggy/insecure to be tagged 'stable'. This is, IMHO, a responsible choice from the maintainers.
    If I really want to use it, I still can, but at least I am aware of the risks I'm taking. For example, I use gmail as my main e-mail account, and I find it quite reliable. But a security flaw has been found some weeks ago, and it clearly justified the "beta" stage ; I was aware it could possibly happen, so I didn't us
  • How about, after 6 months in Beta we rename it Betta!
  • As long as something is in Beta, the company thinks they aren't responsible for anything. I'm ok with this, as long as whatever you are giving me is provided for free.

    Now, the problem comes in when you have games (think MMORPGs) released that should STILL BE in beta testing, yet they get passed off as retail and you pay 50 bucks and then 15/month for the priviledge of playing a game who which should still be in beta considering the state of it.

    If its a free MMORPG beta, I'm all for it though. I've been in

  • by SJ ( 13711 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @07:06AM (#11658317)
    For as long as I can remember the meanings were something along the lines of...

    Delta - Very early development. Planning phase.
    Alpha - Still adding features. Doing basic testing.
    Beta - Features frozen. Only fixing bugs. Lots of heavy testing.

    Doesn't this mean anything to anyone any more?
  • The term beta doesn't mean anything anymore. Look at games that are being put out lately. It's basically a beta version for a year or so until they decide not to release patches for it. Companies are concerned about bottom lines and not the quality of their products. And it will keep being this way for as long as people continue to put up with it.
  • Maybe it's just my perception, but Beta's have increasingly become about what the developers think is wrong, not about what actually needs changed or about what is broke if it's against their core rational. It's also about agenda. They may have no intention of repairing some issues before the final product is shipped an you, the tester, will never know it as you continually do your best to make them aware of some back breaking issues, rendering Beta for all intents and purposes worthless from a participatio
  • beta is the third or fourth patch in the computer games industry! OSS quake2 is still beta...

    Guess when Microsoft decided we could do their beta testing for them, it all kinda fell into place for the rest of us...

  • Whilst lesser mortals would simply start coding, for PhD holders there's work to be done beforehand - analyses, case studies, lots of graphs, research down the pub ...
  • It's like that scene from Monty Python & the Quest for the Holy Grail [] where they all look to the castle and say "Camelot". Then, just before the song and dance routine, Patsy [] mumbles: "it's only a model."

    When a product is in Beta, devs get to deny everything. Well, even in final, they usually slither their way out, but that's not the point. At the end of the day, if the software breaks down, they just have to hire Patsy as their support agent to say: "it's only a beta."

    Just think of the money being sa
  • ...and those are legal reasons. Did you notice that Goole News has no ads? From a recent Wired Article []:

    The minute Google News runs paid advertising of any sort it could face a torrent of cease-and-desist letters from the legal departments of newspapers, which would argue that "fair use" doesn't cover lifting headlines and lead paragraphs verbatim from their articles. Other publishers might simply block users originating from Google News, effectively snuffing it out.

    Under these circumstances, I don't

  • I don't know the details, but have heard that this trend, at least in the case of some things like Google News, is a legal ploy. Once they release and make money on the product, they open themselves to a wider range of lawsuits. On the plus side, this is also supposedly why we get to enjoy Google News sans advertisements.
  • by rasteri ( 634956 ) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @09:39AM (#11658731) Journal
    This was the first article I saw when I woke up this morning, and for a minute I thought I'd woken up in Brave New World...
  • A pretty large percentage of the distros we use are some kind of sub-1.0 or another and they never or almost never reach '1.0' status. Usually this is the decision of the developer his/herself because they believe there isn't any time or money for QA, documentation, better bugfix, fit&finish to achieve 1.0 status. But on the other hand every developer carries around in his/her head a lis of features they'd like to implement someday but either it's technically over their head or takes too much time. Yest
  • The article is entirely about how google does betas. A single company, let alone one of the top 5 in the industry, is hardly representative of the industry as a whole. Though the submission tries to make it sound like it's an industry trend.

    MS does betas in public as well, but usually not nearly as long as the Google betas. I work for a commercial software vendor. We don't beta in public, and I think most companies don't. Some of the large companies do, and for good reason. MS pretty much has to beta in pu
  • I mean, really. What percentage of my software is still version 0.xxxxx?

  • Mildly Unrelated... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nephroth ( 586753 )
    This is mildly unrelated, but I am irritated as to how much the word "beta" is thrown around. It is not so much an issue with professional developers, but an issue with individuals that mis-classify an alpha, or even just a concept demo as "beta." Admittedly, this mistake is most often made outside the realm of software development and more in the area of 3rd party maps for FPS games, and in flash portals (such as Newgrounds). The term "beta" is often used in these realms as an excuse for laziness.

    My point