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What is a Beta Version?

By Kathy Hawkins
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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.

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.

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.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon276862 — On Jun 27, 2012

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

By anon171753 — On May 01, 2011

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.

By anon163100 — On Mar 26, 2011

really simple and very informative.

By anon136519 — On Dec 22, 2010

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

By anon135931 — On Dec 20, 2010

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

By anon110992 — On Sep 14, 2010

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.

By anon106361 — On Aug 25, 2010

Thanks. Gives full clarification.

By anon105631 — On Aug 21, 2010

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?

By anon101864 — On Aug 05, 2010

simple and precise. Good one. Pavan R.

By anon101579 — On Aug 04, 2010

Nice explanation. Thank you.

By anon100991 — On Aug 01, 2010

Great, thank you! Merci!

By anon100454 — On Jul 30, 2010

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

By anon86602 — On May 25, 2010

nice explanation. thanks

By anon85835 — On May 22, 2010

Short and precise. Keep it up.

By anon80609 — On Apr 28, 2010

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

By anon79590 — On Apr 23, 2010

pretty amazing. short and concrete.

By anon79563 — On Apr 23, 2010

thanks a lot. i really appreciate you.

By anon79118 — On Apr 21, 2010

really it was a good explanation. i like it.

By anon78679 — On Apr 19, 2010

Thanks a lot. Really helpful and nice explanation.

By anon76006 — On Apr 08, 2010

perfect!

By anon75906 — On Apr 08, 2010

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

By anon75869 — On Apr 08, 2010

Thanks. through this i came to know.

By anon74710 — On Apr 03, 2010

good, but some examples are also needed.

By anon73015 — On Mar 25, 2010

Thanks for the explanation.

By anon72452 — On Mar 23, 2010

very good explanation of this term.

By anon72103 — On Mar 21, 2010

cool explanation.

By anon70582 — On Mar 15, 2010

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

By anon70140 — On Mar 12, 2010

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

I get the complete idea behind the concept of BETA.

By anon69834 — On Mar 10, 2010

Good. Explained properly.

By anon68434 — On Mar 02, 2010

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

By anon65638 — On Feb 15, 2010

good explanation

By anon65447 — On Feb 13, 2010

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

By anon64559 — On Feb 08, 2010

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

By anon63665 — On Feb 02, 2010

Thanks for a simple explanation.

By anon62144 — On Jan 25, 2010

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

By anon60505 — On Jan 14, 2010

I got the knowledge about Beta. Thank you.

By anon59522 — On Jan 08, 2010

not bad! thank you so much.

By anon59049 — On Jan 05, 2010

very good. prithvi

By anon59048 — On Jan 05, 2010

very good explanation, and very simple sentences.

By anon59041 — On Jan 05, 2010

Good

By anon58266 — On Dec 31, 2009

very good explination, understood, thanks for that irfan

By anon58152 — On Dec 30, 2009

well written, thank you. chris in pittsburgh pa

By anon58070 — On Dec 29, 2009

Ah! did that help me! Thanks!

=)

By anon57877 — On Dec 28, 2009

nice explanation. It was clear enough to understand!

Thank you.

By anon57019 — On Dec 19, 2009

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

By anon56976 — On Dec 18, 2009

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

By anon54939 — On Dec 03, 2009

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

By anon54209 — On Nov 28, 2009

Nice explanation, please keep it up.

By anon53846 — On Nov 24, 2009

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

By anon53039 — On Nov 18, 2009

Now I know what it is. Thanks.

By mamtagoyal — On Nov 18, 2009

thanks.

By anon52976 — On Nov 18, 2009

thanks so much for such great information.

By anon52975 — On Nov 18, 2009

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

By anon50417 — On Oct 28, 2009

nice details.

By anon47828 — On Oct 07, 2009

good explanation. I could understand at once.

By anon47202 — On Oct 02, 2009

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

By anon47048 — On Oct 01, 2009

thanks for the explanation. I understand it better now.

By anon46896 — On Sep 29, 2009

Thanks.

By ashfaq403 — On Sep 02, 2009

Nice explanation which everyone can understand. thanks to management.

By anon41298 — On Aug 14, 2009

Nice explanation. Thanks peris.

By anon40665 — On Aug 10, 2009

great explanation.

By anon40507 — On Aug 09, 2009

This was very helpful. A nice clear explanation.

By anon24175 — On Jan 08, 2009

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

By anon23870 — On Jan 04, 2009

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

By lstafford04 — On Oct 16, 2008

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

By anon7624 — On Jan 30, 2008

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

By anon5374 — On Nov 23, 2007

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

Thanking you

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