While betas do give some insight into how a product/service can be better, it’s not always something that has to be offered.
Why do I consider offering public ‘betas’ of it’s future products a bad thing? Here’s my reasons:
- Reviews off of (pre-mature) betas – Sometimes, bloggers who try a beta will blog about it. Their experiences can range from poor to great. Unfortunately, usually any beta is obviously not great (or it wouldn’t be a beta), so most bloggers will complain about something. When news gets around to everyone, from the bloggers to even a regular average joe, they’ll assume the product is bad. Once the product/service hits the market, people will assume from past reviews/commentary that it’s already bad. Which is completely wrong. This happened a lot with Vista. As a result, Vista wasn’t as well as it should be.
- Frustration with betas – People who try betas will sometimes face frustration. If some component is wrong, or doesn’t work, or who knows what. If they have frustration initially, and is enough to really anger them, they’ll just lose complete patience with it. They’ll themselves consider it worthless and nothing, and tell everybody not to use it. Of course, people still don’t understand that a beta is a pre-mature product/service. It’s not meant to be as polished and great as the final product. But people don’t so it stays like that.
- Treating users like guinea pigs – Are we lab rats or something? Are we suppose to test these products for you, for free? I mean, I have to experience some pre-mature product, and I get nothing out of it? But problems? Nobody wants to be treated that way. It just makes the company look bad.
That’s the gist of it : pre-mature reviews and feeling of nothing. That’s what a lot of beta testers will do feel about a beta.
Betas are bad of course. I mean, people just don’t sign-up for a beta if they didn’t feel interested in it.
I bet they would love to experience (a good one hopefully) a product/service before it comes out. They would love to roam around it, and give some tips on how it can be better. So that the person is really making a difference into how a product/service really can be once it’s done. There’s some satisfaction in that. It feels great to see something evolve from sad and sloppy yet interesting, to a great beautiful product.
That’s what many beta testers hope to see.
Of course there are some beta testers who have the 3 experiences/actions I mentioned above. And unfortunately, that messes up the public’s view of the product/service. That shouldn’t be what happens.
I think Microsoft has to get at a level where they feel a product/service works solid and good enough, to be issued in a public beta.
Or Microsoft should just do all the beta testing themselves, within their labs, and then release it to the market when it’s ready. After all, they are the largest software company in the world. I’m quite sure Microsoft has it’s own brain to figure stuff out.
I think that’s the better way of doing it, than the current way of offering public betas off of anything.
It just seems like a smarter way to me. I hope Microsoft can learn this themselves and try it my way.