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Quick Definition

As software is developed, it goes through several different stages before it's released as a finished product. Software that is currently in beta isn't ready for release just yet, but it's being tested by people outside of the development team (ie, normal users). If this term is used to describe software that's been given a full release, it's an insult as it implies that the developers were either too lazy or too incompetent to make something that works. See beta testing, open beta, and closed beta for more details.