All Software Is Beta

from the let-it-go dept

Dave Berlind is responding to stories about how Google plans to keep some of their offerings officially designated as "beta" for at least five years and notes that all software is beta, because it's never bug free. However, the difference between beta and non-beta software should be whether or not you a can receive phone support for the offering to help deal with the bugs that (inevitably) will arise. What he doesn't note, which is just as important, is that part of the changing nature of "beta" is that the nature of software itself is shifting somewhat. It used to be that you shipped a software product, and early versions were beta until you shipped the final shrink wrapped version. However, with web-based applications, there is no shipping of versions, and you can (and you do!) keep modifying the actual product all the time. So, having the extended beta label is more a function of the fact that the product that people are actually using is still being modified all the time by the company offering it. That wasn't the case with packaged software.

Reader Comments (rss)

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2005 @ 12:09pm

    Beta = cheap

    Perhaps this is not why Google is doing it, but, big companies like Microsoft and Oracle extend discounted development software while your products are 'in development'. Once you go production you have to cough up the big bucks to Microsoft et al. I've known companies to ship one beta version after another, year after year...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2005 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Beta = cheap

    Beta means they can still charge you for it but you will now perceive it as what it truly is, flawed software under constant revisions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 11th, 2005 @ 4:58pm

    Amazon's got 6 stores in Beta... some for over a y

    Google's not alone -- heck, Amazon has six so-called stores in Beta... including Musical Instruments, Gourmet Food, Health&Personal Care, Beauty, Sports&Outdoors and Yellow Pages (this one, being the only one that's somewhat new), not to mention several of their Web Services that have been alive for 4-5 months now... I think most of them have been open for more than 12 months! Maybe beta="not very good"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Three Men In A Boat, Feb 14th, 2005 @ 7:37am

    Re: All Software Is Beta

    Well, if it takes longer than six months to produce an application, there's no point in doing it- it will be obsolete on arrival (it's probably shorter than that now). And while the whole process of producing an app is compressed, the biggest cut is in QA.

    The rush to market makes us all beta testers. At least Google is admitting it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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