What Is Open Beta? – A Detailed Guide

A product witnesses several stages of development before it is finally released for public use. From the alpha stage to the closed beta and then to an open beta, a product goes through various rounds of testing before it is made available for everyone. While the first two early releases, i.e. MVP and closed beta, aim to gauge the market response and identify glitches, open beta is the final testing stage before the product’s commercial release.

But being open to all doesn’t mean that the product is ready to be used by anyone and everyone. In the open beta, a product is open for public testing, but it is still in development. There’s a lot that goes on during this phase.

Here’s a guide elaborating on the open beta, how it works, and how it is different from closed beta, along with examples of open beta in various industries.

What Is Open Beta?

Open beta, also referred to as public beta, is a beta testing phase wherein a software product or application contains complete or nearly complete features, has a fully developed user interface, is ready for revenues, and is launched for secure testing by users outside of the company that developed it.

Open beta is generally open to all users who wish to test the product. It usually happens after the developers have fixed all major bugs identified during the closed beta stage. This stage is used to identify any final issues that need to be addressed before the product goes live.

Objective Of Open Beta Testing

The main objective of open beta testing is to test the product for the mass audience before making it open for public use. It is used to ensure that the product is ready for launch and can be easily accessed by users.

Besides, open beta testing also helps in:

  • Identifying any final bugs that need to be fixed before the product is launched.
  • Checking the scalability of the product.
  • Getting user feedback about the product before it is made open to the public.
  • Ensuring that the product is stable and can be used by a large number of users without any issue.
  • Generating interest and hype among users for the product.

Importance Of Open Beta

Generally, a product isn’t considered “done” until it’s been battle-tested by the masses. That’s why the open beta is such an important step in the product development lifecycle. It allows developers to see how their product performs under real-world conditions with a large number of users.

This feedback is essential for making any final tweaks or changes to the product before it launches.

The open beta phase is important for several reasons:

  1. It allows the developers to get feedback from a larger and more diverse group of users.
  2. It helps ensure that the product is actually ready for launch by identifying any final issues that need to be addressed.
  3. It acts as a marketing tool, generating buzz and interest in the product.

This beta phase also helps product developers validate the product design and development process and assess whether users are actually willing to pay for the product.

Open Beta vs Closed Beta

Both closed and open beta versions help developers test their products before launch. The main difference between the two is that closed beta versions are invitation-only and open beta versions are open to anyone who wants to participate.

But there’s more to it than that. Let’s take a closer look at the key differences between open and closed beta testing:

Closed Beta
Open Beta
Closed beta aims to get product feedback from limited yet professional users.
Open beta is more about getting feedback from the masses before making the product available to everyone.
The company isn’t usually ready for a mass launch during closed beta. So, the feedback they’re looking for is more about product development
The open beta stage, on the other hand, is about preparing for a mass launch. The feedback here is more about how the product will perform on a large scale.
Closed beta is invitation-only – it is closed for general public. Usually, people who are already familiar with the product or have been recommended by someone else get in.
Open beta is open to anyone who’s interested.
Closed beta testing is usually done before open beta testing.  
Open beta testing is usually done after closed beta testing.  

Industries That Use Open Beta Testing

Open beta testing is used across several industries –

  • Software Development: From SAAS to traditional software, open beta testing is used to gauge customer reaction and get feedback on how to improve the product.
  • Operating Systems: Android, iOS, and even Windows have open betas for their new versions. This allows the company to test the product on a large scale before release.
  • Video Games: The most common use of open beta is probably in video games. It allows developers to work out any kinks and get feedback from gamers before releasing the game.
  • Websites: Open beta testing is also used for websites. Websites will often release a beta version to get feedback from users before launch. Google is well known for using open betas for its products.
  • Applications: Applications, irrespective of the operating system (Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, etc.), use open beta. This is done to ensure that there are no glitches and that the app meets all users’ requirements.
  • Other Industries: Open beta isn’t just limited to software and websites. It can also be used for products and services. For example, open beta testing can be used for a newspaper section to get feedback from readers before it becomes permanent.

Open Beta Examples

Several products that you might use every day started out as open betas. Some of them are:

  • Gmail: While starting as a closed beta in 2004, Gmail became a public beta from 2007 to 2009.
  • Android: Android is known to test its releases before making them public. It usually offers an open beta option to all its Pixel device users.
  • Windows Insider Program: Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program lets users test out upcoming features and changes for the Windows operating system. This helps the company get feedback and make necessary changes before releasing the final version. The users, on the other hand, get to use upcoming features before anyone else.
  • World of Warcraft 4: The WOW franchise’s fourth instalment, Dragonflight, was launched as an open beta in 2022. The open beta lets players get a first-hand game experience and give them a platform to provide feedback that the developers use to improve the game before its official release.
  • Duolingo Maths: Duolingo, the self-learn application famous for teaching languages, launched the open beta for their maths app in 2022. The open beta helps the developers test the game-like app and ensure it is user-friendly and engaging for school-going children.

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