Within the world of software development the term “beta” refers to the fact that the software is still under development and is not the final version of the software.
Why does a software manufacturer offer beta versions of their software to the general public?
Software manufacturers offer beta versions in order to take advantage of a discriminating user community that will put the software through its paces and identify bugs that need to be fixed. It’s a lot like “teamwork” in the sense that the user community gets a free look at the software in return for having input into the creation of the final version.
In other words, to use current marketing language, companies are “crowdsourcing” feedback from customers to obtain better quality and Product Market Fit (PMF).
Perhaps the best piece of advice one can give to those users who want to try a beta version of computer software is to make a full-system backup of your computer system prior to using the software. In this way, you’ve made the maximum effort toward protecting yourself in the event of a catastrophic breakdown of the software.
In fact, the full system backup approach is a prudent safety measure for protecting the user from a breakdown in any new software. This is especially true in the event of a security breach. Considering the rise of hackers who use ransomware to break into computers, lock users out of their systems, and threaten to destroy valuable company data unless a ransom is paid, it is an extremely good habit to do regular full-system backups -- as often as possible, frankly. In the case of a security breach, if you’re ever infected with ransomware, you can simply ignore the hacker’s demand for money and restore the lost data using your backup.
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