What Does Beta Mean?
If you’re Greek, it’s the second letter of the alphabet (is that correct, EB? And if you’re a fishophile, a beta is fancy (i.e. expensive) aquarium fish. And if you’re an astrophysicist, it’s some kind of comic ray that can burn your hair out by the roots.
Well, by now, you can tell I don’t know much about Greek (it’s all Greek to me!), or aquarium fish or astrophysics. But I sure do know what beta means in the computer world – it means: “test”. Beta versions of software are versions that are in development. They’re released to the public to get feedback. They may or may not be stable. They may or not be ready for prime time. Most of the time, beta versions of software are nearing release status – meaning they’re close to the version that will be released to the public. Sometimes, developers release beta versions to the public with some caveats.
Beta versions won’t normally ruin your PC, but some features may not work, and they may crash. If you’re not comfortable testing software, it’s best to avoid beta software. If you’re the wild and carousing type, like EB, and love taking chances, then you may want to try beta software.
Now, if you want a really nerdy, geeky definition, here you go:
“Before a commercial software program is released to the public, it usually goes through a “beta” phase. During this stage, the software is tested for bugs, crashes, errors, inconsistencies, and any other problems. Though beta versions of software used to be made available only to developers, they are now sometimes made available for the general public to test, usually through the software company’s Web site. However, because beta software is free, the programs usually expire after a period of time. If you choose to test a beta software program, don’t be surprised if it has multiple problems and causes your computer to repeatedly crash. After all, it is the beta version. You can tell if a program is still in beta by checking the program’s properties. If there is a “b” in the version number (i.e. Version: 1.2 b3) that means it’s a beta version.” (Source: PC.Net. )