Both Apple and Microsoft have beta testing programs that anybody can sign-up to. As part of this arrangement users get free early access to new versions of the Windows or OXS software.
In return the vendor will receive valuable (and some-times privacy concern raising) feedback on bugs and other problems that have been encountered during its use. Taken at face-value free software seems like a great deal but it isn’t and most of us should probably just say “No”.
- Updates to the beta versions of key applications could be delivered frequently. This could result in higher than normal data use on a metered internet connection.
- Beta software by its very nature may contain bugs and defects. Some of these could be serious enough to prevent your Mac or PC from functioning correctly. Even minor bugs can seriously affect your productivity.
- Features can be added or removed from beta versions of software on the whim of the developer. You may come to rely on a cool new feature only to discover that it isn’t included in the final release.
- Beta versions of software are immature and may lack the polish and premium feel that one might expect from their production ready counterparts.
- Beta testing requires more time, commitment and resources than you might imagine.
Beta testing allows companies to test their products in more real-world scenarios than might otherwise be possible. More comprehensive testing should detect more issues and improve the quality of a product. However, because product testing is expensive these programs that have been introduced by both Apple and Microsoft are really about getting ordinary folk to share that cost (without compensation).
Remember: Installing beta software can be risky and is not something that should be undertaken lightly.