/bay't*/, /be't*/ or (Commonwealth) /bee't*/ n. 1. In
the Real World
, software often goes through two stages of
testing Alpha (in-house) and Beta (out-house?). Software is said
to be `in beta'. 2. Anything that is new and experimental is in
beta. "His girlfriend is in beta" means that he is still testing
for compatibility and reserving judgment. 3. Beta software is
notoriously buggy, so `in beta' connotes flakiness.
Historical note More formally, to beta-test is to test a
pre-release (potentially unreliable) version of a piece of software
by making it available to selected customers and users. This term
derives from early 1960s terminology for product cycle checkpoints,
first used at IBM but later standard throughout the industry.
`Alpha Test' was the unit, module, or component test phase; `Beta
Test' was initial system test. These themselves came from earlier
A- and B-tests for hardware. The A-test was a feasibility and
manufacturability evaluation done before any commitment to design
and development. The B-test was a demonstration that the
engineering model functioned as specified. The C-test
(corresponding to today's beta) was the B-test performed on early
samples of the production design.