Beta (Release)

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Community Submission - Author: Anonymous

In computer science, the term beta refers to the second stage of a software development cycle, and it comes right after the alpha stage. Beta consists of a phase where the software already has all the major features and functions working, but its efficiency, usability, and security still needs further testing. Usually, the beta stage makes the software accessible to testers that are not part of the development team or company.

To perform such tests, the software is made available to developers and potential customers. This process is also known as a beta release, and the individuals that contribute to it are called beta testers. A program may be released for testing to a limited number of invited testers (closed beta), or it can be made public to anyone interested (open beta). 

As the name suggests, closed (or private) beta testing involves a smaller group of testers. This approach may be suitable for testing software that seeks to gather feedback from specific target demographics, or that cannot be tested on a wider scale due to scaling limitations. On the other hand, open beta testing usually involves a broad user base, which is often made of potential consumers. In this context, open beta may also be considered a marketing strategy with the goal to demonstrate the product.

Beta testers are usually driven by a curiosity about a new product, especially the volunteers. Typically, the beta testing phase focuses on usability so that testers report bugs and provide feedback. They may also suggest the addition of new features and functionalities, although this is more common during the alpha stage.

So, the beta stage allows developers to make improvements and fix bugs before the product is good enough for the next stage (release). When a beta software is close to its final version, it is often called a “release candidate.” If no more problems or bugs arise, the program can be finally launched as a “stable release.”

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