Forever Beta

April 24, 2006

According to the Sofware Development Life Cycle (SDLC) I've learned in graduate school, the beta stage is the phase where the resources for development would have been greatly reduced and public testing would occur. On the typical Bell Curve, this would fall towards the end of the curve, near the end of the development cycle.

Nowadays, companies, particularly web dot com's, have stretched the bell curve to accomodate a longer Beta phase. In fact, one might think that companies have stretched the beta phase to infinity so that the Beta phase would actually be constant and unending.

The roster goes on like a Web Dream Team: Google's GMail and Calendar, Yahoo's eMail and Microsoft's Search. All of them have adopted the Beta stage as if it was their surrogate child. What's good about it is that it gives tech companies the perfect excuse for continuous improvement and reduced liability for bugs. Testing of web apps seems to have been put on the shoulders of users.

The Beta Phase have answered a lot of questions for the developers and users. It has given tech companies the figures on what to fix and what features may be omitted. On the other side, end-users have seen the beta as an early means to utilize a tool and a way to enjoy innovation. One question that seems to be unanswered is "When will the Beta phase end?"

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