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A little beta this, a little beta that

Avast Security Blogger, 19 December 2011

A little beta this, a little beta that

It used to be that beta had a specific meaning. And I am not talking about Archimedes.

Beta once meant an early, test version of a program. Run it, play with it, and yes – you’ll find some bugs in there. Now thanks to Google, and its introduction of near-perpetual beta, the meaning has changed. And, this may be close to reality as one journalist told me last week, “Remember, people are beta, too.”

Hmmm, but as the journalist also pointed out, if a Google beta is essentially complete, then what is our new Android app - avast! Free Mobile Security? It’s out in beta form and it’s on the Google Market. As a dedicated punster, my first idea was to call it alpha-beta. But on a more serious note, I decided to talk to Ondrej Vlcek, our CTO, about what an AVAST Software beta is all about. So here it is:

An avast! beta is feature complete and has been tested by our QA. It’s put out as a beta so we can have our community of testers look at it, collect their feedback, and fix any bugs that are there.

While some companies have strictly defined open and closed beta, we have something in between: access is limited to people that look for it in our user forum. We try to not have any formal PR about these beta products because they are, by our definition, still in the process of improvement and not ready for the general, nongeek public. Just prior to the official launch, we have the release candidate beta which is like Ivory soap: 99.9% pure and ready to go. This is what we like to hand off to reviewers.

With Windows, there is quite a lot of complexity and it usually takes a lot of time to go through the beta process to get to the release candidate stage. For Android, this process has been accelerated by our acquisition of ITAgents and by placing the beta on the Google Market. With well over 100,000 downloads from the Market, we have a much wider test base than usual. And while there are over a 1,200 ratings on the Market, we really appreciate the people who have added comments on our forum ( where we can then fix the bugs in a systematic way. And yes, the final release IS coming soon. ( :