Beta access available to the selected many

thumb_white.gifWith this secret validation code you will be able to create a profile on our system and get exclusive access to our amazing new service, the code is ‘yetanotherbetacomeon’. 

There is an alarming proliferation of ‘beta’ versions of software in the web 2.0 world that are really marketing come-ons rather that true betas which would normally come with structured testing and feedback. All companies alpha and beta test. They are both important and valuable processes. 
The blatant use of the beta stage of testing as business generation tool could bring the whole notion of beta testing into disrepute.
I think that emerging applications that are trying to garner interest should bill themselves as ‘preview’ releases. They would still carry the caveats of not be able to be relied upon for service continuity or being version compatible with the ‘full’ releases as we would ‘mostly’ see with the likes of Microsoft, IBM and Apple.
This would enable the viral marketing of new software services and applications without confusing it with real beta testing.
Do you think that playing fast and loose with established concepts could cause problems for our industry?

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I think that most people putting together such sites could not care less about "established concepts" in "our industry." Most of those sites think they are going to take over the world and become instant millionaires with their brilliant new widget. They embrace the word 'disruptive', thinking that they don't need to fit in with industry, because they are changing it. And one in a million are probably right. Google was right. Amazon was right. And a few others. But the other 999,997? The problem is not that they are playing fast and loose with our industry - it is that our industry is taking them seriously in the first place. Or, to be more fair, that software has split into two industries - the "startups" and the "established". It is like the difference between stock brokers and day traders. They do the same work, but some do it methodically to increase investment, while the others take huge risks in hopes of huge gains. Both sides have their winners and losers, but they are not the same type of industry.