Beta testing is a test for a computer product prior to commercial release may it be an application software, an operating system or a multimedia product. It is a stage where in the product is put into a larger community after a rigorous in house test. To some, it is also a way of knowing how well the community responds to the product. Beta testing is the last stage of testing, the last possibility to correct errors that would render a product priceless to customers. And because of this, beta testing of multimedia products is in essence a difficult task.
PURPOSE The purpose of this document is to present a strategy to beta test a multimedia product. It presents possible alternatives that would yield the best result. BETA TESTING STRATEGY In the past, beta testing is used to be a secret. Beta testing is given to a group carefully selected by the company who owns the product to be tested. The fear that finding a considerable amount of bug might diminish customer interest was the old belief. Now, the perspective has changed. Beta testing is already considered an important marketing tool (Nelson & O’Connor, 2004).
It increases the popularity of the multimedia product. The best strategy therefore is to make it available for free in the beta testing phase. The first step is to advertise the beta software and provide links to beta version download. Then provide a feedback center for them to comment on observable bugs. Providing the beta version free has many advantages. First, it is very cost effective because you do not have to spend money for hiring a group of people to beta test the software.
You may have to spend a certain amount to accelerate interest by providing rewards to people with most important bugs found or by advertising the beta download locations, but these are small compared to hiring an entire group. Second, it is the best way to reach the most number of beta testers. The number of beta testers is directly proportional to how effective the beta testing would be. Third, providing it for free is a way of advertising the software to gain more users. The finding of bugs is just one part of beta testing, there should also be a way for users to provide suggestions.
Suggestions are very important to make the multimedia product more acceptable to the market. The suggestions and reported bugs should be monitored on daily basis. Suggestions should be evaluated of whether there is a plan to include it or not. Reported bugs should also be evaluated of whether it is connected to some other bugs or it is really a bug. Then an update release should be available on a periodic basis, for example a monthly update until the reported bugs are already tolerable or it is already completely bug free.
The end result of this methodology should produce a very robust multimedia product. If the multimedia product gains public acceptance, the number of users who will beta test this product would also be many. This will give the developer an early view of whether the multimedia product would become profitable. Although there are some possible drawbacks, the beta software should also be given some licensing limitations to prevent users from simply using the beta version instead of the final version. An example would be a pop-up of the reminder to purchase license when the beta period expires.
CONCLUSION Multimedia products undergo beta testing to ensure good quality. The best approach in beta testing is to make it free and available for public download at the beta version stage. This would increase its popularity and the cost of beta testing would be minimal. References Nelson, T. and O’Connor, M. (2004). Beta Software: Get In the Development Process. Retrieved from the PC Today website: http://www. pctoday. com/Editorial/article. asp? article=articles/2004/t0205/20t05/20t05. asp&guid= , on January 24, 2007