Alpha Testing and Beta Testing are the common terms used in software industries and both have their scope and significance in testing practice. I would like to explain this with a simple example as follows. Whenever firms like Microsoft or IBM launch their software product in market, it undergoes both Alpha and Beta Testing before it is available for end user. Let’s say these reputed firms are launching their new operating system in the market so before launching of an operating system, an organization conducts testing in two phases known as Alpha Testing phase and Beta Testing phase. In Alpha Testing phase, testing is conducted by a team of highly skilled testers at onsite whereas in Beta Testing phase this tested software product is made available to the customers or the end users to test the actual functionality and give their feedback.
What is Alpha and Beta Testing?
To understand both of these terms in a better way, below are the comparison points.
Alpha Testing is a type of testing conducted by a team of highly skilled testers at development site whereas Beta Testing is done by customers or end users at their own site.
For Alpha Testing there is a dedicated test team, this is not the case with Beta Testing.
Unlike Beta Testing, Alpha Testing is not open for market or public.
Alpha Testing is done for software application, project and product whereas Beta Testing is usually done for software product like operating system, write or paint utilities, games etc.
Both alpha and Beta Testing are the kind of acceptance testing, only difference is former is conducted within organization whereas latter in conducted out of organization.
Since Alpha Testing is done onsite therefore developers as well as business analyst are involved with the testing team whereas in Beta Testing developers and business analysts are not at all involved.
Beta testers can be naive or proficient end users of software product but alpha testers are always high skilled professional testers.
Alpha Testing involves both black box testing as well as white box testing. Beta Testing is always a black box testing or functional testing.
Alpha Testing is done before the launch of software product into the market whereas Beta Testing is done at the time of software product marketing.
Alpha Testing is conducted in the presence of developers and in the absence of end users whereas for Beta Testing this is exactly reversed.
Since Beta Testing is done by end users therefore it is also known as field testing but there is no such other name for Alpha Testing.
Both Alpha Testing and Beta Testing are also known as user acceptance testing (UAT) and the only difference here is former testing is conducted onsite but the latter testing is conducted offshore.
Alpha Testing may be conducted in virtual environments; however Beta Testing is always conducted in Real Time environments with end users.
Bugs or Feedback Comparison:
Every software product that a company launches in market has its destiny associated with its completeness and usability. Software product completeness can be ensured if it is tested thoroughly from end to end and this Alpha Testing demands a team of highly skilled professional testers who can ensure the software product is complete and ready to get launched into market or for Beta Testing. Therefore Alpha Testing is very challenging job and the expectation from an alpha tester is very high. It is always expected from an alpha tester that for any software product, no bug should be identified during Beta Testing by end user as it may be huge reputation loss for an organization or its project team collectively. Sometimes organization puts the money offer or prizes for beta testers if they able to identify any valid bug in software product which Alpha Testing team has missed or which may impact overall software product functionality. This prize offer creates interest in beta testers to do black box testing. Bug identified during Beta Testing are known as software beta version bugs which are assigned back to development team for their fixes and after the bug fix, again software product enters into alpha and Beta Testing cycle with new software version number.
Also, if beta version bugs for a software product are very critical then it may delay the actual launch date of the software product into the market and in this competitive world if one organization delays in launching its product then it could be an opportunity for another organization to launch the same product which is complete and bug free alpha and beta tested. This organization may bags a good amount of business and money that its competitor could have done.
This can be concluded that every organization emphasis on Alpha Testing as well as Beta Testing for its software product. Alpha Testing should be competitive enough that it should not left any scope for bug identification in Beta Testing. In the real world, an organization desires Beta Testing as a forum or feedback for its software product from end users before its launch.