What is a Beta Version?

Frustration may arise if technical support is lacking for the beta version of a product.
Beta testing is common for computer games, especially online games.
The strengths and weaknesses of new products may be tested by beta testers.
The beta version of a software release is considered to be a preview.
Article Details
  • Originally Written By: Kathy Hawkins
  • Revised By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2014
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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.


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Discuss this Article

Post 102

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

Post 92

ok now its clear. i was using u 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.

Post 90

really simple and very informative.

Post 85

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

Post 84

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

Post 81

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.

Post 77

Thanks. Gives full clarification.

Post 75

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?

Post 74

simple and precise. Good one. Pavan R.

Post 72

Nice explanation. Thank you.

Post 71

Great, thank you! Merci!

Post 70

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

Post 68

nice explanation. thanks

Post 67

Short and precise. Keep it up.

Post 65

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

Post 64

pretty amazing. short and concrete.

Post 63

thanks a lot. i really appreciate you.

Post 62

really it was a good explanation. i like it.

Post 61

Thanks a lot. Really helpful and nice explanation.

Post 60


Post 59

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

Post 58

Thanks. through this i came to know.

Post 57

good, but some examples are also needed.

Post 56

Thanks for the explanation.

Post 55

very good explanation of this term.

Post 54

cool explanation.

Post 53

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

Post 52

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

I get the complete idea behind the concept of BETA.

Post 51

Good. Explained properly.

Post 50

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

Post 47

good explanation

Post 46

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

Post 45

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

Post 44

Thanks for a simple explanation.

Post 43

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

Post 42

I got the knowledge about Beta. Thank you.

Post 41

not bad! thank you so much.

Post 40

very good. prithvi

Post 39

very good explanation, and very simple sentences.

Post 38
Post 36

very good explination, understood, thanks for that irfan

Post 35

well written, thank you. chris in pittsburgh pa

Post 33

Ah! did that help me! Thanks!


Post 32

nice explanation. It was clear enough to understand!

Thank you.

Post 31

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

Post 30

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

Post 29

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

Post 28

Nice explanation, please keep it up.

Post 27

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

Post 25

Now I know what it is. Thanks.

Post 24
Post 23

thanks so much for such great information.

Post 22

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

Post 20

nice details.

Post 18

good explanation. I could understand at once.

Post 17

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

Post 16

thanks for the explanation. I understand it better now.

Post 15
Post 14

Nice explanation which everyone can understand. thanks to management.

Post 13

Nice explanation. Thanks peris.

Post 12

great explanation.

Post 11

This was very helpful. A nice clear explanation.

Post 6

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

Post 5

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

Post 4

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

Post 2

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

Post 1

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

Thanking you

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