Like the alpha version, beta version of the program cannot be defined in a single phase or, all the more so, in one word as this word combination means different things to different people, namely has many definitions. Here are a few examples.
Beta-version is a software version that can be handed over to professionals of beta testing companies known as beta testers, i.e. people who are not employees of the company, but ready to exploit not yet fully debugged software application for some time and report on their experiences and bugs identified.
It all depends on the development model whether a beta version will be feature complete, namely contain a full set of intended features of the program. The fact that the product is ready to be submitted to external users for evaluation does not mean that it is full-featured software.
A typical beta software program, developed using the waterfall model, has all the functionality that will be implemented in the release version, moreover, it is already tested, has no fatal errors but only some serious errors – the smallest amount of them. At that a beta version is a test version of a software application but the beta version is the second major stage of the product development which follows the alpha version, wherein non-essential data files are halfway ready, device driver files are almost completed, all project documentation is prepared and the product meets the requirements. So it is when beta testing services are used so that to identify the rest of bugs in the program and ensure its quality prior to its commercial release.
Typical beta software program, developed using evolutionary approach, already has core and the set of basic features and is stable therefore it can be considered an acceptable product. The program is thoroughly tested, and it may even have some additional features.
In the evolutionary development the program state is reached quite early, and due to this it becomes possible to send the software to third-party beta testers earlier than usual and, thus, to know the user opinion in advance and save money on the development process by running tests on the product.
Alpha and beta versions are not necessarily to be regarded as the only key stages of software development process (frontiers in the development). You may determine one more frontier in software development life cycle (gamma?) in which the program will have a wide variety of functions, and the missing ones will not have significant impact on its marketing characteristics. This frontier will mean that the development is coming to an end and most of the work has already been done.
By the way, game testing company tends to hire people to test beta versions of video games and pay for the efforts. All you need to do is to perform assigned tasks and like playing games, and you are most likely to be among the company’s employees!
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