Robert Scoble points to Joe Wilcox's article on Microsoft riding on the beta train. My say on this is, beta software are good. Here are my thoughts on them. Mind you I am no software developer or anything. I am just a end consumer most of the times who loves to try on new things and recommend it to people from time to time when they are looking for solutions. So forgive me developers if I don't understand your so called 'software development cycle'.
- Beta software helps out to fix initial bugs as a large number of audience is looking at the software, which otherwise will be fixed and released as updates lateron
- Beta software increases the awareness of the software and it's capabilities
- Developers can get a lot of input from the end users during Beta testing
- Developers get to enhance their products and broaden the product scope during the alpha and beta phase
What I don't like about beta software and services is:
- It seems to be never ending time limit to beta. I think the companies should post a date when that beta software or service will go into a full working production system. Here I can complain about Gmail, we have been using it for months now, but not many people know (end users) when it will come out of beta phase. I have met people who would refuse to use Gmail as their primary email as they don't know when it will come out of the beta phase. They are scared that the idea might just get scraped after all!
- Not all the developers/companies tell you about the changes and enhancements made to the software/service when a beta product is updated. I think if the companies tell you what they have enhanced or updated than it works more in their favour than of customers.
- I would agree that Companies should not have array of beta software on the line, I think this can be difficult for big development houses like Microsoft, but...
Any more points?