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beta testing

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  #1  
Old 10-07-2006, 12:30 AM
Craig Walters's Avatar
Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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beta testing

ok, on a lark, i decided to try something i hadnt ever done before. i went to google and typed in "beta test", without the quotes. now, i expected a few hits; software is always being tested. i was not prepared for the 87 MILLION, 700 THOUSAND hits that i got! that's a LOT of beta testing! and it's not just software.

folks, there's some interesting stuff going on out there. one that caught my eye, that i'd heard a tiny bit about before, is microsoft's new virtual machine stuff. well, it's now in beta. i also saw one for testing new versions of TIVO, the hardware. just in the couple of pages i glanced through i saw some massive, multiplayer games in beta if that's your bag.

the thing with beta is, usually (do read the fine print), you get a free copy of whatever it is you're testing. you scratch their back, they scratch yours. it's often a pretty good arrangement and costs you nothing but a bit of time and feedback to the originator.

i jumped on the Filter Forge beta when doug first announced it here and i've been VERY pleased with that one. i've tested for game companies as well and i've always gotten a free version of whatever it is. it's a pretty good exchange.

try something out that you have an interest in. i'd be interested in hearing your results.

craig
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Old 10-07-2006, 03:41 AM
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Gary Richardson Gary Richardson is offline
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Re: beta testing

Just a word on the potential hazards of Beta testing.

Beta's are development programmes, and all the bugs have not been ironed out (of course not that's what they're expecting you to find), as a consequence of this there may be interactions with your system or with existing programmes on your computer that you didn't expect.

Worst case scenario it could toast your machine, and you may not be able to recover it without doing something drastic like re-formatting and re-installing.

So don't beta test on a computer on which you have all your "critical" data. If you can't afford to lose it don't beta test with it.

Best to beta test on a box where it doesn't matter too much if you have to start from scratch again.
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Old 10-07-2006, 06:26 AM
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Doug Nelson Doug Nelson is offline
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Re: beta testing

Many beta programs come with NDAs (non-disclosure agreements). Letting you hear of the results could result in banning from the program, or worse.

And if you divide the time spent testing into the cost of the software, you'll find you've been working for sub-sweatshop wages.

On the plus side, it can be a kick seeing your feature proposal end up on the toolbar of the next edition
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Old 10-07-2006, 06:28 AM
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chrishoggy chrishoggy is offline
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Re: beta testing

I beta test quite a bit of Microsoft stuff, and haven't had any big problems. BUT , I've been very lucky. If you can do it, use another system for your beta stuff. Or use a dual boot system, so you do not cause damage to your main OS. If you can get your foot in the door with Microsoft beta testing, you will begin to get invites for other programs. I'm running a system at the moment with Vista and a few other beta programs on, and it has been very stable. But that could all change by just installing something simple like a printer driver.
Get joined up with the Microsoft partner program, then get along to some of the conferences they hold. You usually end up with around £2000. worth of software for free, when you attend these things. Last one I went to, I ended up with MS Office Pro full retail pack, Visual studio Pro 2005 with MSDN, Windows server 2003, Small business server Premium 2003 and a whole load of other stuff.
Well worth joining up IMHO
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Old 10-07-2006, 10:00 AM
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Craig Walters Craig Walters is offline
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Re: beta testing

yes, i didnt mention any of the caveats. good points, especially the one about non-disclosure. i've never had any beta-ware mess up my system, so i guess i'm lucky there. sometimes i've had to upgrade things, like drivers or directx to get the stuff working, but never anything so bad it caused a serious system failure. still, probably is a good idea to do it on a separate system.

i happened to mention that TIVO has a beta program; as i was looking further through the pages last night, i noticed Real has one too, the other big DVR company. seems they've gone to subscriptions for television guides also. in fact, you've got 12 days to activate this or your dvr quits working. bah! that's the only reason i DONT buy one. i wonder if you can sign up for it, pay for the first month and then cancel it and if your dvr keeps working or not?

i shld also mention i'm still testing for Filter Forge, though their beta is about to end. when i started testing they had about 50 filters available that had been made in-house. there are now over 850! that's a LOT of free filters!

and, if you're not familiar with beta testing, there are generally two flavors, open beta and closed beta. filter forge was open beta and therefore required no non-disclosure agreement. in fact, they were quite happy for you to talk it up and even to pass around your filters to each other. closed beta is quite different. that's where the company is normally asking you NOT to talk it up and not give out any information and normally does require a non-disclosure agreement.

i find beta testing interesting, particularly if it's something you might normally buy if it were available. you get the inside track and more than a passing peek at what's coming. and, like doug mentnioned, it's great seeing some idea you had get integrated into the software. it's almost like you're the designer or co-designer, and i've always found that enjoyable.

but the guys are right; do read the fine print before signing up!

craig
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Old 10-07-2006, 10:34 AM
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Re: beta testing

For those that would like to try windows Vista, you can now download the Vista RC1 DVD ISO file. This full version of Vista expires on the 31/3/07, but it will give you an idea as to what it will all look, feel and act like

PLEASE remember this is a BETA trial version, so it should not be used as your main OS
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/
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Old 10-07-2006, 01:29 PM
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Frank Lopes Frank Lopes is offline
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Re: beta testing

I would say don't install the RC1 release: install RC2 that will be available to the public within a day or two: much more stable, faster and uses fewer resources.

RC2 was released already to the MSDN community so it shouldn't take long to be available to all.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chrishoggy
For those that would like to try windows Vista, you can now download the Vista RC1 DVD ISO file. This full version of Vista expires on the 31/3/07, but it will give you an idea as to what it will all look, feel and act like

PLEASE remember this is a BETA trial version, so it should not be used as your main OS
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsvista/

Last edited by Frank Lopes; 10-07-2006 at 04:04 PM.
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