<programming> Testing a pre-release (potentially unreliable) version of a
piece of software by making it available to selected users. This term derives
from early 1960s terminology for product cycle checkpoints, first used at IBM
but later standard throughout the industry.
"Alpha test" was the unit, module, or component test phase; "Beta Test" was
initial system test. These themselves came from earlier A- and B-tests for
hardware. The A-test was a feasibility and manufacturability evaluation done
before any commitment to design and development. The B-test was a demonstration
that the engineering model functioned as specified. The C-test (corresponding to
today's beta) was the B-test performed on early samples of the production
An item "in beta test" is thus mostly working but still under test. In the Real
World, systems (hardware or software) often go through two stages of release
testing: Alpha (in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Beta releases are generally
made available to a small number of lucky (or unlucky), trusted customers.
beta conversion « Betamaxed « beta reduction «
beta testing » beta version » Bezier » Bezier