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Definition: Beta Testing
Beta Testing is the second stage of testing in software development, where the end user tries out the product. It can be referred to as a test just before the release of the product. Beta testing is also called field testing. It is performed as the last stage of the testing phase when the product undergone all types of internal testing and is quite stable in the different environments it has been through.
The main goal of beta testing is have a trial run of the product by the real users, outside the development team so as to discover any loopholes from their perspective and rectify them. The beta version of the product is released in two forms: open beta and closed beta. Open beta is released to only a selected group of users , that too on invitation only, while closed beta is released to a larger segment of people , whosoever expresses interest. In beta testing, the users can install the application, test every element of it in their home environment and send feedback to the developers which can be quite useful in raising the quality of the product before the final release. The testing period can range from a few weeks to a few months.
There are several issues and criticisms surrounding beta testing. One of them is that the developers not having time to evaluate the feedbacks or implement the changes suggested by the users. Since beta test is done at the very end of the development cycle, it is argued that it is too late to implement any major changes in the application.
One of the most popular examples of bets test is Microsoft’s Windows 7. The beta version was released to gain feedback as to how the operating system worked on different machines and based on it, they were able to release a stable version. Many online games like World of Warcraft also performed beta tests before releasing the final version in order to find out whether the hardware servers could support the number of players playing at one time.