Alpha is the New Beta

A few years ago if a piece of software or a web service carried a beta mark, most people except developers would keep well away from it. It was like a little warning sign to say something’s not quite ready, but you can take a look if you’re willing to take the risk. The risk that it’s not been fully tested and therefore anything could happen (eg. the world could explode).

Nowadays however, I seem to be using a huge number of beta products without even trying. Gmail is in beta. Flickr is in beta. Google News, Odeo, Windows AntiSpyware, Kinja, Google Maps; they’re all in beta but I, along with hundreds of thousands of people, use them every day. Ok so Google is responsible for most of them, but you get the point :)

I’m currently using a test version of Firefox called Deer Park Alpha 1 which suggests to me that ‘alpha’ will start to be applied to software still in it’s developmental stage, moreso than it has been previously. Alpha used to be a no-go zone for everyone but the most hardcore of developers, but with Deer Park being usable and with a lot fewer bugs than I expected, I predict that it’ll become the new beta. The only problem being of course… what happens when everything is alpha? You get pre-alpha, but then what? There aren’t any letters in the greek alphabet before alpha…

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