Discussion Activity 11

A week away from Thanksgiving … the time is flying by. I have to say up until recently, the activity at the Course Blog has been great. Maybe my posts haven’t been as interesting? At any rate, please keep those posts coming … the Discussion Activity for this week is a little late, so you have until Sunday at 5 PM to finish it. I really struggled with this one … in years past, I’ve gotten some decent responses, but I’ve just never really liked the idea behind this one. The Solutions Institute builds software — some of it we even sell to people … most of it however is used in educational settings to support IST. I understand the whole designing and developing IT applications and it is a critical piece of knowledge to have if you are going to be a part of any development effort. With that said, some of the things that are going on in industry do disturb me … I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just give you the question.

Discussion Activity

More and more, software giants are selling beta versions of their software to end-users. Beta testing has traditionally cost companies a lot of money to perform properly. However, they receive very valuable feedback from the beta testers. With this new trend, they are receiving both feedback and a revenue stream. Is this appropriate? Should end users pay for incomplete, unstable software and provide mission-critical feedback?

35 Replies to “Discussion Activity 11”

  1. Software beta testing is becoming more and more routine. Developers can get their program up and running and put it out to the community to find the bugs or logic errors. To me it seems like the developers are, in a way, skipping part of step four of the software development process. Step four is testing and debugging. I think the program should be working flawlessly before put out to the users. If you buy a car you don’t want to find out on your own if they fastened the wheels on right, or if the gas lines were poorly designed. Why would you want a program that doesn’t function to par? You could also argue that beta programs are more of step 6 in the software design process which is, maintaining the program. I don’t feel that having the users find all or most of your errors is the right way to go about it.
    My solution to the beta testing is that the beta program is given to a test group to try for free. Those beta testers can find the bugs and it doesn’t hinder their mission effectiveness because, they can revert back to the older version.
    I have participated in two beta testing groups to date. One was for the game Americas Army. I would play the new maps before they came out with a group of other beta testers. The map would not be released to the public until we felt it was ready. We could suggest ideas to the developers, communicate with them, and they could also ask questions of us. The other beta test was back in the dial-up days for AOL. I tested a beta version before it was released. The game was more fun to beta test than AOL was simply because there was more communication between the beta testers and the developers.
    I believe that beta versions should not be released to the general public. If a company wants a beta test, they should select a group and ask for feedback or suggestions. These beta testers could be given a free copy of the final product or other incentives to get volunteers. Volunteers would give more/better feedback then the public because they accepted the risk of a possible crippled version.

  2. End users should not have to pay for unstable, incomplete software in order to provide feedback to companies. The software should be available free for a trial basis, i.e. 30-90 days and then a user should give feedback and be allowed to continue the services for a low cost if they choose to. Requiring people to pay for faulty products just so one can improve upon the product is not a good way to market in my opinion. More people would try out something offered free for a limited time and give valuable feedback than people who had to purchase a product in order to test it. Mission-critical feedback from end users should be looked at as a privelage by companies and they should reward the end users participation in the testing by offering the free trial usage with the agreement of providing feedback sometime before the free trial is over.

  3. Part of selling software is making sure it works properly. I dont think the valuable feedback is more important then the how much they are spending on to get the software to perform correctly, esp. when they go could try and find it somewhere else. I dont think these versions should be sold to companies, maybe to schools so IST students could work with it and make some sort of challenge out of it. But for companies to pay money for something that knowningly has glitches isnt right.

  4. I feel that software giants have just come to their senses and realized that if there is a demand for beta versions of their software then they should sell them. I am very curious as to why these companies handed out these potentially flawless products to customers who were chomping at the bit to get their hands on them. So now these beta versions have a price tag on them and I couldn’t agree more. Customers who are so interested in the latest software will not only pay for them but also provide substantial feedback regarding the software’s capabilities.

    I feel that there are enough die-hard customers out there to purchase beta versions of software so that software giants will not lose as much revenue when trying to create new products. I also think that this money gained from beta software may help to improve beta versions of software or possibly encourage software companies to create more and more new software.

    As for the customers who are upset about the selling of beta versions: that’s a shame and they will have to wait for the complete product to come out. These type of customers are obviously not as interested in the product if they are not willing to pay for the beta version. And if you look at this from a business point of view, you would only want feedback from customers who really want and have much interest in your product and those customers are the ones paying for the beta version.

    The software corporations are simply killing two birds with one stone by actually receiving free feedback and earning profits.

    In conclusion, I think it is completely appropriate to charge for the beta version of software. If people are willing to buy the product, complete or not, businesses might as well sell it. It is not like the software companies are hiding anything…customers know it is not the complete version and they are aware of their decision.

  5. After reading the comments posted, I completely agree with the last post, stating that Beta versions should be sold, and there is nothing wrong with that. To touch on the points already said, if there are people willing to buy the Beta versions to test them out and give feed back, then why not sell the Beta versions? If there is a market, business’s will sell a product. If you don’t want to buy a faulty product, then just wait for the complete version, no one said you have to buy the Beta version. This happens with the car industry all the time. When new cars are made, the first generation always has problems with it, but the company does not know the long term problems because soon after it is made it’s put on the market. The second and third generation cars are the more complete models. However, the companies still sell the “Beta” versions because there is a strong market for them. Now they are able to find out what problems occur in all different types of conditions, same as with people who buy the Beta version of software. I am glad people buy the Beta versions because real users can find glitches, not just the software engineers who know everything about the product and might not run into any problems.

  6. If there are people willing out there to pay to become a beta tester than why would a business want to change that if they can make some profit. I believe it is a good business strategy to charge people who are willing to beta test and provide you with sufficient information on your beta tested product. The company could use that money to enhance their final product and they get feedback from their customers in what some problems are with the software.

    We need these beta testing processes to avoid the errors and try to make a flawless product to the public. Technical support does not need to be hassled with complicated problems and should not have to deal with many customers. The feedback is very crucial to represent what the public finds wrong with the software. You want to make this software run smoothly and to the customer needs so you can make the greatest profit.

    In simple economics if there is a demand for something then you must supply to make an earning. It may seem that the company is ridiculous in charging for an unfinished product but how many times have we seen people that just cannot wait to get their hands one something popular before everyone else. The customer gets to interact with the software earlier than everyone else and has a head start. The company does have an advantage of double charging for the same product.

    My final thoughts are if you people keep on paying for the beta versions then you will not see many free beta versions out there in the market. I completely agree with the businesses because I would do the same thing if I could make more money. The people know they are getting something that will have errors and be unfinished but for them to test it out early is a reward enough for them.

  7. For this beta system which is also know as the acceptance system. This is most frequently used in ahead of time of the installation of the new system. So, the developer will get the beta user to try on the software on the sites and then give back feedback, which can then make certain amendments on the system.

    I strongly disagree the action of asking end-users to pay for this incomplete, unstable software, which is to provide mission critical feedback. The company pushes their projects out of the markets and asks the customer paying for their possibilities failure, on the other hand developer want to get both the profits and feedback from customers. Firstly, it is unfair to the customer who is looking for the best qualities in paying a premium.

    Secondly, this prepaid beta system carries some risky and danger to the end users. Since, the systems are not yet perfect, they will cause bug in the systems and some other many problems, which it require further beta testes. Thus, in introducing an unfinished system to the end user, it will bring un-satisfaction to the end users.

    Therefore, in bring the beta system; developers should give the trial version of the system to a selected population, so to avoid the risk and annoyance to the end users. All in all, the charged beta system should not be introduced to the general public.

  8. Beta testers should not charge end users to buy the trial version of their software. It doesn’t seem right, these people are giving valuable feed back to the company and checking for possible problems, isn’t that enough for the companies to ask for? If anything, I think that the Beta testers should reward the end users for their feed back by giving them something in return…people love FREE stuff!
    On the other hand, I can see why the end users would be willing to pay to be in this type of study. Who wouldn’t want to be on the cutting edge of these programs and be apart of the development process? End users are probably the best type of people for this job because they are the ones who will execute the program to its top level. For their feedback they should almost get a paycheck from the company because ultimately, they are apart of their business hierarchy.
    It seems wrong for companies to charge end users but I suppose if they are willing to pay then why not make a profit. I am sure that is what the companies are saying. It is all about making money and the companies are trying to make up some of the lost revenue from the development process. Business-wise, this is a great ploy and added revenue to the company even though it seems very unfair! If I was an end user, I would be demanding t-shirts, mouse pads, money…whatever I could get my hands on to help out this company and their product!

  9. Beta testing can be very beneficial to companies when they are developing or upgrading products. I personally have participated in a few tests, receiving beta versions of Windows Media Player v.10, and some other music software. I think that by allowing users to test the product out, corporations can get valuable feedback compared to the information they receive from their engineers and designers. This allows them to incorporate new functions and solve any problems they have before they release the program to the mass public. However, I have never personally had to pay for a beta version of any software, mainly because they were all free to use in the first place. Charging the end-user for beta versions can be looked at in two different lights. First of all, the end user may receive the final version of the software when it is released at no extra charge. I think that this is a bonus to the end-user, because they have a chance to learn about and evaluate the software before anyone else does. In contrast, it may not be a good idea to charge the end user a fee for the beta program because they are generating revenue for the company in addition to the fee they pay. This can be seen as a money making campaign for the companies that develop the software. Personally, I feel that it is a legitimate practice to charge the end user, as long as it is not the price that the final version will be sold for. In addition to the lowered price, I think the evaluating user should definitely be able to receive the full version of the software at no extra charge once they complete the beta testing. This way, the company can compensate themselves for the money the spend to perform the beta testing and the end user can receive the final product at a discounted price, if they choose to do so. Both parties would benefit, but this practice may already be in use. I am not sure because I have never paid for a beta version before.

  10. Recently, many software giants have been releasing beta versions of their new software titles to end-users. Obviously this is very beneficial to the software giants. They get to earn profits on a release before it is really ready to be released. In addition to this, these companies save money on the testing and debugging phase of the software development process, but having the end-users that paid for the release, submit feedback. From a business standpoint, this is an excellent idea. It not only saves money, but also generates profits on a release much earlier than they would have been able to do in the past. However, there are some downfalls from a business standpoint as well. By letting end-users do the testing, you run the risk of the testing not being done properly. Testing is the most important part of the software development process, and when professionals aren’t overseeing the testing, you run the risk of letting a great deal of bugs slip through the cracks. With this said, I still promote the use of end users as beta testing. Sure a company takes the risk of letting things slip through the cracks, but that’s their responsibility to make sure these things don’t slip through, bad code is a reflection on the company, and they will suffer the hit when it comes to their reputation. From a user’s point of view, this is great. They get the newest releases faster than ever. They also get to give feedback on their favorite titles so that they can have a say in making the product even better. That in itself is very exciting for a user, the ability to make your favorite products better.

  11. Software beta testing is becoming more prevalent with big software giants. I believe that beta testing is a smart way for software companies to get their product out there and receive valuable feedback. This way companies know exactly what works and what needs to be fixed in order to satisfy their customer’s needs before the final version is created.

    However I believe that charging end-users to test their products is somewhat unfair. I know it’s an expensive process for software companies to beta test, but they have to realize that they’re giving out incomplete and unstable software, so why would people want to pay. In order to make beta testing fair, software companies should find groups that are willing to pay or let people use their incomplete, unstable software at no charge. They could let people test their software on a 30 trial basis, because by that point end-users should have valuable feedback to give the software company. Also software companies will make up for the lost revenue during beta testing once the completed version is sold.

    Overall I believe that beta testing is very valuable to software companies, and by charging people to use their incomplete and unstable software is unfair to end-users. In order for people to want to test out their software, software companies are going to have to make beta testing more appealing for them in order to have one of the most valuable parts of the software process completed.

  12. Paying for beta programs goes against logic. Normally when you participate in a survey or an experiment the tester is the one doing the paying to the subject. Why should users have to pay for a “test” product? It makes no sense.
    From a software production standpoint beta testing is helpful and effective in the debugging process and assures the general public is the getting the “best” product the company can put out (sometimes not really). Feedback is a sometimes overlooked yet critical component to know when creating a product. If the customer doesn’t like what you’re making you aren’t going to sell anything. Although, as I said before, paying for betas goes against logic it doesn’t go against the market. If the consumer is willing to pay for a version that they know is unstable then, hey, why not make some money on it? It’s simple supply and demand.

  13. I have downloaded and tried beta version pieces of software. Since there was no cost to it I decided to try it. I had an old printer without the driver so I looked for the driver on-line. The only driver I could find was a beta version for Windows XP. It worked but not without any problems and I wasn’t very pleased with it. Since there was no other driver (one that was proven to work) I had to use it.
    By allowing beta-users to test the new software, companies can get valuable feedback concerning the software allowing them to have many people scrutinize rather than just a few. Then they can compile and review the information about the problems or changes that the users experienced or wanted and implement them prior to final release. I do not think they should pay for it though. It should be a trade off. If you try this for us and give us your opinion, we will not change you. That way you are providing them a service and vice versa. If I have to pay for a piece of software, I expect it to be completely debugged and have no problems with it.

  14. Beta versions are amazingly useful for companies when they can get feedback from users for their product. That being said, I see no way in which those companies have a right to charge the people giving them this feedback… If anything, the testers should be receiving compensation, like people that test anything normally receive.
    I would never pay for an imcomplete, unstable program because of the lack of assurance I would have in the program. Essentially they are saying to people, “buy our incomplete program that likely still have bugs we haven’t gotten to fix yet… And oh yeah, give us feedback on it!” I think if it were posed like that to anyone, you’d be hard pressed to find someone willing to buy it..

    Of course, you do have highly anticipated programs like video games and what not, and I’m sure people are willing to pay for them just for the chance to get to play any version of them… I still feel like that’s taking advantage of consumers, though, but if there is that high of a demand, I guess there is nothing wrong with charging a reduced rate.

    I believe that the free accessibility of beta versions of programs benefits both companies and consumers the best possible way.. It seems like a perfect trade off to me — You allow anybody access to your beta version, in return for their opinion and feedback on the program. Everybody wins!

  15. How well a game does on the market has to do with how the quality of the game connects with the users. What better ways are there to see if the game connects with gamers then having them test it out? I was a beta tester for Activation a year ago and I tested and gave my feedback for Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. I never knew that companies made people pay for unfinished software just so they can get feedback. My experience in beta testing was nothing but good things. I got to test this game out for free, and when they finished the game I had a copy sent to my dorm room. But is it worth paying money for a beta version just to give feedback to the creators? For the consumer I think it all has to do with what kind of a consumer you are. If you are a hard core gamer, and spend many hours on this game, what is another 10-15 bucks to make sure the game is running correctly, also you are having your input put into a game thousands or millions of people could be using. As for the normal people who don’t spend hours on hours playing games beta testing obviously is not worth the money or time that you need to put in. I believe beta testing is good for companies and gamers, it gets the gamers involved with the software that they are going to be spending their money on and it gives companies what they want; money and customer appreciation.

  16. More and more software companies are selling beta versions of their software to their users. Beta testing is the final testing process that software goes through before being implemented and installed. The purpose of beta testing is to find errors and bugs in the software programs. After the bugs are fixed, the software is then released for general installation.

    I do not think that companies should release beta versions of their software to consumers. The companies’ purpose is to distribute the software and let the consumers or ‘testers’ find the bugs. When the consumers find the bugs and report them, the company fixes them and then releases the software. These companies are making money off of unstable and incomplete versions of their software. Consumers are getting cheated because they have to worry about the errors and bugs that may arise in these software programs. They then have to wait for the companies to fix the software and release a new version, an update, or a patch of some sort.

    One time I tested a version of a game called Jet Fighter. From the very beginning I had problems with it as it would freeze when I tried to run it. I called the company and was told that I had to go into the file and manually change a piece of the code, so that the program would run normally. After testing this game, I decided that I was not going to buy the game after the company had fixed the bugs. It just got annoying trying to test it. I would be flying the jet and then all of a sudden the game would freeze, or there would be some other error. Since then, I have not done anymore testing.

    These companies should be required to make sure that their software is in proper working condition before it is sold to consumers. I think that if companies want to release beta versions to consumers, they should be free or they should find volunteers who wish to try it. I think it is a good way to receive feedback, because after all, the consumers are the ones that are going to be using the software. However, I just do not think it is right for them to be given faulty software. As a consumer, I do not like purchasing software or items that I know are faulty or have had bad reviews. I mean, who wants to buy something that is just going to break and become faulty after limited use.

  17. Even though companies are willing to pay for these beta versions of the software it does not make it appropriate. Since this becoming more and more common in the software world, companies wishing to test out a beta version have no other choice but to pay for the incomplete version. I do not think that it is appropriate to be generating a revenue stream from software that is not complete. In the past companies have provided very positive feedback to the software companies which in itself will already allow the companies to generate revenue.
    I personally don’t think that these beta versions should be released to the public as an incomplete product. Testing should be done privately with a group of people where they will receive valuable feedback and suggestions. Although software companies have managed to create a market where there shouldn’t be, they are simply meeting the demands of the public. However, the benefit that they reap from these beta versions should not be generating revenue in addition to providing them with valuable feedback.

  18. I disagree with making the end-user pay for incomplete,unstable software and provide mission critical feed back. The company puts their software out on the market and asks the end user to pay for a product that is incomplete and provide feedback.

    It is not right to ask an end user who is looking for a quality program to make them pay for an incomplete program. I know I would be very upset if I were sold unstable software and I would definitly never use that company agian.

    Another problem is that if the programs are unstable or incomplete how is the company going to de-bug the program so as not to infect the end user. If the company lets some bad code slip through and causes problems for end users, the company is going to take a big loss.

    What companys should do is give a free trial version of the program, for a limited time and get their mission critcal feedback through the free version. That way if people are happy with the program they will buy it and countine to use it.

  19. All feed back is critical in maintaining software. And that is a fact. My roommate and I just argued over whether beta-testing on the consumers behalf is right or wrong. I oppose, stating it is deceiving and degrading, and the consumer should not have to be involved in the process of debugging. He also came up with great points answering my question when I asked, “why can they not leave it simply up to testers and volunteers instead of the entire consumer population?” He pointed out that it would take an extremely long time for software to be released because basically the number of consumers far exceed any potential number of testers. Therefore the rate of our current technology would be somewhere in the 70’s.
    While he had some great points, I still remain constant to the fact that it is unfair to the consumer because we are not being forewarned of beta-software and that intentional deceiving is unethical and should not be an issue in our society. He remains constant to the fact that updates are always released and I assume he believes that would and should curve the effects of being lied to.
    Therefore, I agree to a certain extent as to whom the software can be sold to; all consumers willing to purchase it after becoming aware that it is a beta version. Those who are willing to pay are more than welcomed to do so, but at their own expense.

  20. I agree with making users pay for beta software. THey get this software before other users can and they can try it out. I think you should definitly pay for that kind of thing and if the companies can make money off of it then i say all for it.

    Why would beta companies not accept money for there software. Just because the software is incomplete does not mean it shouldnt cost money. And they chose to be beta software testers so they definitly should pay that money. They give support back but you have to understand that giving information back to the companies is the right thing to do. We all want our information in the product to be the best and these beta testers do it for us. Them not paying for this software is wrong and they should definilty do it.

    I kno i was a beta tester at one point for a game. A friend of the family owned a software company and let me try the game. I did not pay i admit but most of the other kids that tried it in my area did. They did not mind paying beacuse they got this really cool game before everyone else did.

  21. I agree that beta testing is a very valuable tool for software companies. I have downloaded and used beta versions of some software and never had any problems using the software. I wouldn’t consider the beta versions I’ve used as incomplete or unstable.

    If the beta version of the software being released to consumers still allows them to benefit from use, and if the consumer understands that it is a beta version, then I feel that it is appropriate for the software companies to do so. The consumer does have a choice in whether or not they want to pay for the product before the final version is released than that is their prerogative. As long as the consumers know that what they will be purchasing is a beta version, the consumer can weigh the pros and cons of making such a purchase.

    Without beta testing, companies would spend more money on developing each software title. Companies spending more money to produce a product will most likely mean that the consumer will then pay a higher retail price. I know that I feel that software prices are already high enough. I wouldn’t want to pay an even higher price tag because companies have to spend more to produce the product. If companies are up front with consumers about the quality of the beta version before the purchase, it might not be such a bad idea.

  22. I do not believe having beta-testing is a problem at all. It’s one of the easiest ways for a company to have their product on the market, yet only as a prototype to find out what is wrong with the program. Beta testing helps the company. But concerning the other question of whether or not users should pay. I don’t think they should have to pay to use an unfinished product. The company should be thankful for users to try their program and report problems. The companies should release the product to the end-users but the should not have to pay. Although one could argue that the users are getting the benefit of using the program earlier than others, and that could be why they pay.
    The best solution I could say would probably be to have the user either get the beta version free, or if they pay for the beta version then they should get the final version for free when it is released.

  23. I think much of the information that would help me make a better decision for whether or not this is appropriate to sell beta versions to end-user is missing. What kind of software are we looking at? How much money are these end-users paying for this software? Will these end-users be updated with better versions after their input is put into consideration?

    I think that if in fact these people are willing to purchase this “prototype” software they probably know the consequences that go with imcomplete/unstable software. I think the best situation here would be to allow these end-users the use of the software for a minimal cost, receive their feedback, perfect the software, then give the completed software to the user. I do not think it is fair to sell imcomplete softwareto people but obviously these users know that the software is not complete and are willing for whatever reason to take that chance. The whole idea behind people buying what could be faulty software though, is beyond me? Who are these end-users and what are their benefits from this? The whole idea seems a little off to me.

  24. Software giants are benefitting greatly in this situation. Not only do they receive revenue by selling the beta versions of their software to end-users, but they also receive the feedback that would normally cost them a great deal of money. Although this is great for them, the actual end-user doesn’t always benefit like the software giants do.

    I don’t think it’s fair to make the end-users pay for the incomplete, unstable software. While the end-user may know they may be getting this type of software, the software giants have a lot more money than the normal consumer does. I think the software companies should give free trial versions of this software to a small group of consumers and receive feedback from them. If an end-user pays for this software and they are very unsatisfied, the company risks losing their customers.

    Although, while it may seem unfair, in the case of the end-user knowing what they’re purchasing by paying for beta versions of software, it may be fair. For the customers out there that know what they’re getting into and understand the risks, then it’s their choice to pay for the software. If the company can make revenue on something like this, then I guess they should continue as long as they’re fully informing the customer of what they’re purchasing.

    In conclusion, while the software giants are benefitting from selling beta versions of their software, it’s not always fair. With how much money these companies have, I would think they’d be able to hand out a few trial versions and do their testing and receive feedback that way. On the other hand, if there are consumers out there that are willing to pay for the beta versions knowing they may be receiving incomplete and unstable software, if the software companies are fully informing these consumers of what they’re purchasing then, while it seems unfair, the companies are going to continue doing this.

  25. I don’t like the idea of companies selling beta versions of their software applications to end users. Beta testing should be an internal process because those are the people that understand the software best, would have the best chance of finding the problems and once they found the problem they could easily debug them. Even if end users found a problem they would have to tell the company who would then have to research and determine whether it was a valid problem or not and whether they could replicate the exact same problem.
    I believe that this is like selling a car that never went through complete testing. You wouldn’t know what could be wrong with the car or when it could fail you when you were using it for something important. Although with software it is not life or death it could have major effects. Imagine doing a project for a class on a untested version of Microsoft Powerpoint and then it fails during the presentation.
    Beta testing should be done in-house and not left to end users. Also I like the idea used by some software companies of making their software free and with open source code so that people can actually make adjustments to the code and share it with others. I think that if they want to give out their software for beta testing it should be given out for free.

  26. Companies will often use beta versions of software to get a user reaction as to what people like or don’t like about the software. Some companies will sell this beta version to end-users in order to get valuable feedback from those users. But at the same time, these companies are recieving profits from a beta version that may be un-stable, poorly programmed, or just a bad program overall. Why should end-users have to pay for a program like that?

    Beta versions should not be sold to end-users, but at the same time, if the end-users want to buy a beta version of a program, then the companies are always going to have someone to sell their beta to. I believe that beta versions should be download-based. I’ve used a few beta programs, and although some of them are good and possibly worth buying, most of them are just for tests and not put together very well at all.

    I believe the best way for a company to test their beta software would be to get a few users and bring them to an office and have them test the software. If this were to be done, not only would the company get the normal user feedback, but they would also be able to monitor the user while they’re using the software to see where there might be some frustrating parts of the program for certain users.

    Overall, if a company wants to sell their beta software, there’s going to be someone out there that is willing to buy this software, even if it may not be complete or stable. Even though having free versions of this beta software would be easier for users to obtain and use, companies are still going sell this software becuase of the fact that people are willing to buy it.

  27. First off, I think it is obvious that we are a society driven by money and yes; this is once again a show of big money makers and in particular software giants trying to lower costs and elevate profits. When they sell beta versions of their software to end-users they are definitely only thinking of their own selfish interests and this part of it is wrong. But, I think it is the same thing many people would do in their situation, it is not like the CEO of a software giant is even in contact with end-users to see how his or her greed is effecting the little guy in the technology community. So, I guess what I am saying is that although what they are doing is pretty blatantly, morally wrong, in a society where all the average person cares about is gaining the next buck, can you blame them?
    End-users are used to test programs and verify results. So, if you incorporate them in the testing stage, like what is happening in our situation, they can associate themselves with the project and makes them feel a sense of ownership in the project. But, beta testing uses realistic conditions to test large volumes of data. This is to try to detect problems and bugs and try to rid the system of them. As you can see, the problem is that the giants are sending these beta versions, which are not completely rid of bugs, out to the user community, where the user segment can find these problems. But, the end-users have to pay for these beta versions. So the software developers are getting paid for feedback on their software, so they can cut cost on proper beta testing. There is a definite moral problem here and thus, I see it as seriously inappropriate. End-users should not have to pay for this incomplete, unstable software and have to provide feedback for their price. If anything, the software providers should issue these beta versions for free and if they end-users choose to help out and provide feedback, then they can, but they should never have to pay for the company’s greed. But, we don’t live in a perfect world and from my viewpoint, I do not see anyone doing anything about it anytime soon.

  28. Software development and testing costs an extreme amount of money, but this is not a new phenomenom and it is logical to assume that it has always cost just as much, in relatives terms, over the course of the ENTIRE computer era.
    The fact that software developers are charging money to TESTERS who are doing their job for them is assanine. Charging end users for incomplete versisons of games and expecting back critical feedback is absurd. It is evident that despite this new stream of revenue, there is hardly any compensation in terms of a lower price to the general public or discounted software to the testers. Unless there is a return to the consumer then this practice should be stopped. Its a total reversal of the common laws of economics and rational consumer behavior.
    I think that it is also irresponsible of computer software companies to distribute such software, at a charge, that has the ability to damage or do unexpected things to an end-users computer. Surely, it would be important to have some sort of contractual agreement in place that would remedy these concerns in one way or another. In many cases, software that has significant flaws in either its functional/logical or physical design can lead to problems for the individual down the road. It could be said that is incredibly dangerous to employ such a tactic on any level, let alone charging consumers for the right to relay crucial information back to developers. It is NOT THE CONSUMER who needs this information, it is the developer who does. It surely is an interesting dynamic.
    Expanding on what I had just previously noted, it also the responsibility of the consumer to not engage in such behavior because if a company sees that their is a market for a certain product, they are sure to exploit it no matter how surprising the existence of the market is. Its interesting to note that thie behavior ties in directly with the nature of our society, in which having the newest, most flashy gadget on the block first is admired. Consumer behavior is dictating processes such as these.
    I think that overall, this practice is despicable to say the least, considering the concept of no return value to the consumer. Logically, it would seem certain that if you are being charged more, you’ll receive more, but this practice flies in the face of such logic. However, this being said, it is completely the consumers fault if they fall victim to such ploys by companies. The consumers create the markets for the developers usually, not vice versa. So if consumers are dumb enough to give in to these exploitations then so be it, the market in the end is usually the ultimate determinant of whats in and whats not.

  29. If companies can make money while “ironing out the kinks”, more power to them. However, I feel that it is unfair to the consumer.

    I think that a fair thing may be to do, is to let the end-user have a free trial since they are taking the time to review your product. At the very least, the end-users should receive a discount that would be determined according to how much the end-users review the product.

    The down side to a free trial would be the possibility of a “leak” on p2p software. The possibility remains either way; however, at least the company can get their “fair share” out of the end-user. Yet, I don’t understand why people would pay to test programs though because I don’t even have the motivation to send error reports for crappy programs such as any Windows software program: and that’s free to me.

    Bottom line is: that I feel that Isiah has the idea with a controlled free trial system. In this way, it would slow/stop the illegal activities, but provide more incentive to the end-user. Nevertheless, if the companies are getting their money and the end-user pays it; who am I to change their ways.

  30. End users should not pay for beta versions of software. As far as I’m concerned they are doing the software companies a favor. Normally, people are paid to come in a test foods, electronic, and other products. The company should be happy that someone is willing to provide feedback.

    Should G-mail beta users have to pay for a service they really don’t need and could find somewhere else for free? I consumer feedback is perhaps the most valuable piece of knowledge a company can have. If software companies started charging people for incomplete pieces of software, they might start receiving biased reviews because the people would be angry they were forced to pay for an imcomplete product AND had to provide feedback for the company.

    Perhaps one solution might be having the beta testers pay (a discounted price) for an unfinished product, provide feedback, and receive the full finished product once it has arrived. This way, the company gets money and feedback from their testers, the testers get the finished product cheaper because they provided information.

  31. Who clicks on the “I accept” button at the bottom of the license and contract before you install new software? In that document that you are accepting, are clauses that state that you CANNOT hold the authoring company responsable for problems and such that occur due to the software. Now, do I agree with it, sorta. It is not fair to the customer to have software that is faulty, especially if it holds critical information. At the same time, it’s impossible for software companies to test their software on EVERY system, with EVERY OS, in EVERY situtation. It just can’t be done! Sure there can be quite a bit of testing done, but your not going to cover everything. Its not a real expectation to have a perfect piece of software, but you can come close. If the software is considered beta, I feel that it should be stated on the box, on the website, on everything.

  32. i don’t think beta testing is right. Truly, i think beta testing is un-American. When i buy a product i want it to work; i want it to work for a long time. This is why Americans strarted buying Japanese cars.

    Beta Testing is comparable to planned obsolescence . This unfair to the consumer. We started buying Japanese cars because they worked for a long time, while American cars needed repairs and replacing much sooner.

    If a company is going to send out a beta version, it should discounted quite a bit. Why should the consumer pay for a full program while their only getting a piece?

  33. I am not very familiar with beta software outside of the games industry. But I have beta tested more games than I am going to bother to count. Anything from closed selective betas to closed random betas, to open betas, I have done ’em all. But for me, the beta version of a game has never cost money. They have always been free to play, assuming your application is accepted if it is a closed beta.

    From my expereinces of beta testing games, I have heard of MANY people complaining that the developers should not be releasing unfinished products to the public. And those people piss me off to no end, the game was NEVER RELEASED, it was issued as a beta version, where the players have to actually apply to participate. The beta is a process to find and fix bugs, address important issues, balance te gameplay, among many other things. They are NOT finished products, they are works in progress. If you do not want to deal witht he problems associated with a beta, DON’T F*CKING APPLY, wait for an official finished product.

    In the case of non-game software, I can only imagine that the issues I mentioned above apply as well. I have no problem with a company actually charging money for a beta program, if the users buy it, thats good for them. But they should be aware that it is a beta program, and not a finished product, and not complain and whine and bitch when something goes wrong. It may be advantagous for a company to charge less for a beta version of a program than the final version, that way consumers have the incentive to purchase the product. For there is no better tester than the consumer base itself.

    To sum things up in one, concise line;

    I fully support companies distributing, and charging for, beta software.

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