What is a Beta Version?

Kathy Hawkins

When a new product, such as a software program, is created or upgraded, there are several stages in development before the manufacturer sells it commercially. The first stage is an "alpha" version, in which software testers within the company test and debug a program as necessary. A "beta" version is the name for the second stage, in which it is often released for free or at a reduced price to a group of external users for additional testing. Websites also commonly go through this phase during development, to see how well they function for a large user base.

Frustration may arise if technical support is lacking for the beta version of a product.
Frustration may arise if technical support is lacking for the beta version of a product.

Purpose and Different Types

The beta version of a software release is considered to be a preview; though it may include many standard features, it is not yet ready for wide release or sale. During this phase, the developers collect feedback from users about the product's functionality, including what they like and what should be changed before its wide release. A beta version of a program can be either "closed," which is limited to a specific group of users, or "open," which is available to the general public. During this testing, developers might release numerous versions of a program, including improvements and bug fixes with each iteration.

Beta testing is common for computer games, especially online games.
Beta testing is common for computer games, especially online games.

Restrictions or Limitations

Although the beta version of software might include much of its functionality, it is not usually meant as a commercial product. Companies might be allowed to use a graphics program in beta, for example, to create new images or products, but they cannot sell what they create unless they pay for a commercial license. Computer games, especially online games, often go through beta testing to find bugs and ensure it will function properly at release. While people can usually play in these tests for free, once the testing is over, they have to pay for the commercial release of the game to play it again.

The strengths and weaknesses of new products may be tested by beta testers.
The strengths and weaknesses of new products may be tested by beta testers.

Technical Support

Products in beta often have limited, if any, technical support available to users. This can be frustrating for some people, but is a consequence of the fact that the product has not yet released commercially. Since users are not paying for the program, frustration based on poor customer service is usually forgiven as bugs and errors disappear with each patch or update. Some products remain a beta version for years, during which time they may be used by a wide audience as if they were full versions.

Usage in Website Development

A beta version can also refer to a website that is made available to test its features and gain audience feedback. During this time, certain features might not function properly. This process is often used to ensure compatibility between the code for the site and different web browsers and computer systems. Beta version sites are frequently first placed on secret domains that are only available to their test audience, before being transferred to their real domains for public viewing and use.

Origin and Other Usage

The word "beta" comes from the second letter in the Greek alphabet and originated with early hardware tests for International Business Machines (IBM) computers. It has entered common usage, especially among frequent computer users. "Beta version" is often applied as a slang term to refer to any product or service that seems unready for mainstream release, especially as a criticism for something sold commercially.

The beta version of a software release is considered to be a preview.
The beta version of a software release is considered to be a preview.

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Discussion Comments

anon276862

Lucid and concise; none of the techno babble associated with such topics.

anon171753

OK now its clear. i was using you torrent beta version and it wasn't working properly and i was really angry but now i am satisfied because i know that was just a preview, not the real deal. It was a great help. i will recommend this site to others.

anon163100

really simple and very informative.

anon136519

Is beta version, a full version or, it is a trial version released by the company?

anon135931

Good. I could clearly understand what a beta version is.

anon110992

How can I get back to my normal version of yahoo mail? I hate this beta version. I can't do anything!

Anybody know? Help! I need it.

anon106361

Thanks. Gives full clarification.

anon105631

Thank you for the explanation. I would like to ask if once the beta version is released on a commercial basis, does the beta user generally have an opportunity for the latest upgrades and fixes?

anon101864

simple and precise. Good one. Pavan R.

anon101579

Nice explanation. Thank you.

anon100991

Great, thank you! Merci!

anon100454

Nice explanation. Is it mandatory to release a beta version before the release of a full version?

anon86602

nice explanation. thanks

anon85835

Short and precise. Keep it up.

anon80609

Its good! But for a user, will the product developers fix an expiry date?

anon79590

pretty amazing. short and concrete.

anon79563

thanks a lot. i really appreciate you.

anon79118

really it was a good explanation. i like it.

anon78679

Thanks a lot. Really helpful and nice explanation.

anon76006

perfect!

anon75906

Why do so many people repeat the previous comments? What do they think they are adding?

anon75869

Thanks. through this i came to know.

anon74710

good, but some examples are also needed.

anon73015

Thanks for the explanation.

anon72452

very good explanation of this term.

anon72103

cool explanation.

anon70582

Thanks for the meaning of Beta Version explained in simple and exact words.

anon70140

This BETA version explanation is really good and written in a manner I understand.

I get the complete idea behind the concept of BETA.

anon69834

Good. Explained properly.

anon68434

Thanks for explaining what is beta version.

Utility of beta version can not be undermined (?)

The people who cannot afford to buy regular version can continue with beta version. I trust software manufacturers would not mind it. -Vijay

anon65638

good explanation

anon65447

i like this. thank you very much. now i know what beta is.

anon64559

Thanks, good data and explanation. now i know what is beta version and also can explain it to others.

anon63665

Thanks for a simple explanation.

anon62144

Very good explanation. now i know something about Beta version. Thank you.

anon60505

I got the knowledge about Beta. Thank you.

anon59522

not bad! thank you so much.

anon59049

very good. prithvi

anon59048

very good explanation, and very simple sentences.

anon59041

Good

anon58266

very good explination, understood, thanks for that irfan

anon58152

well written, thank you. chris in pittsburgh pa

anon58070

Ah! did that help me! Thanks!

=)

anon57877

nice explanation. It was clear enough to understand!

Thank you.

anon57019

nice explanation an understood by anyone easily. thanking you. soul

anon56976

Is it free even when it passes beta, since I received a product key?

anon54939

Good explanation. So far I do not know about beta version. Through this I could understand about it.

anon54209

Nice explanation, please keep it up.

anon53846

That was a good and precise explanation. Good job. keep it up. -- Priya

anon53039

Now I know what it is. Thanks.

mamtagoyal

thanks.

anon52976

thanks so much for such great information.

anon52975

Many thanks for this information. I was not getting it but now i got it. Namita.

anon50417

nice details.

anon47828

good explanation. I could understand at once.

anon47202

Really, it's a great explanation. very clear explanations. this is why everyone have no doubt to understand.

anon47048

thanks for the explanation. I understand it better now.

anon46896

Thanks.

ashfaq403

Nice explanation which everyone can understand. thanks to management.

anon41298

Nice explanation. Thanks peris.

anon40665

great explanation.

anon40507

This was very helpful. A nice clear explanation.

anon24175

would you recommend downloading the new Windows 7 beta version and getting rid of Vista and all its problems?

anon23870

Thank you for explaining this to us! It was very useful.

lstafford04

Great explanation - I've been wondering about that for a while. Thanks for your help!

anon7624

Thank you soooooo much!! A simple, direct answer I've not been able to obtain elsewhere. ginamae

anon5374

Good, Explained neatly but some form of example is needed for accurate or subtle differences.

Thanking you

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