The erosion of reliability: Betas and Weekend Warriors

In the culture of the nerd, having the newest and shiniest everything equates to being well liked. God forbid we take a breather with the latest and greatest. Believe me, I am just as guilty of this as any of you are. I am constantly on the prowl for new software, and that often leads me to broken software, sadly.

If you look at the page for Google’s Quick Search Box, the beta version that I’ve been using hasn’t even been touched since last August. If beta software is meant for public consumption, doesn’t it stop being a beta in spirit?

On the flip side, we also get 1.0 software that is fundamentally broken. Sadly, this is all too common in the gaming world. They focus on just getting something to ship, and then we’re left waiting for a patch to fix all of their bugs. This just isn’t an acceptable practice.

To be fair, it is impossible to test your software on every configuration that exists. Hell, public betas even reduce the bugs in 1.0 software. Unfortunately, we seem stuck in this everlasting beta phase in either name or functionality.

So, what can we do about it? Pay for your software. If you can chose between a free application and a paid application, you’re far more likely to have a responsive support team. Even if the support team is made up of one guy in his home office, his paycheck is on the line. If you’re complaining to a development team for free software, you’re more likely to get the high hard one.

Supporting your favorite applications by paying the developers is the best way to keep those apps great. If the developers don’t feel like they have any incentive to fix bugs, or innovate, good luck trying to get them to respond to your issues. They are people with bills and families. If they’re just developing software as a hobby, you’re going to get hobby-level support.

What are your thoughts? Are you obsessed with finding the latest betas? Maybe you’re sick and tired of “Stable software” not being so stable. Please let me know by commenting on this post.

Photo Credit: Verity Cridland, Google, redjar

Grant is a writer from Delaware. In his spare time, Grant maintains a personal blog, hosts The Weekly Roar, hosts Quadcast, and writes for video games.