In software development, a beta test is the second phase of software testing in which a sampling of the intended audience tries the product out. (Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet.)
Originally, the term alpha test meant the first phase of testing in a software development process. The first phase includes unit testing, component testing, and system testing. Beta testing can be considered “pre-release testing.” Beta test versions of software are now distributed to a wide audience on the Web partly to give the program a “real-world” test (also known as “open beta” or “public beta” phase) and partly to provide a preview of the next release.