Alpha And Beta Testing: Key Differences, Use Cases and How to Use Them For a Successful Software Launch

Internal teams perform alpha and beta tests before software is released in the real world. During these phases, QA teams and real users test apps to uncover as many bugs as possible, determine what users think, and measure how well the product meets requirements.

Alpha And Beta Testing: Key Differences, Use Cases and How to Use Them For a Successful Software Launch
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Internal teams perform alpha and beta tests before software is released in the real world. During these phases, QA teams and real users test apps to uncover as many bugs as possible, determine what users think, and measure how well the product meets requirements.
Alpha and beta testing is one of the most critical phases of software development and can get pretty hectic. That's why many SaaS teams use AI-assisted bug resolution platforms like Bugpilot, for precise information to address user-facing bugs quickly and get the software in shape for a live setting.
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What are alpha and beta testing?

Alpha testing tries to identify issues before software is released to real users. It is the first round of tests to validate whether the software will perform as designed. It’s completed early in the software development cycle, towards the end of the development phase. Your in-house software engineers, testers, or QA teams will test at the development site before giving access to the real user base for beta testing.
Beta testing is the phase that follows the alpha phase, and it is the second phase of customer validation. It's executed by end users in an environment that mirrors production and is a form of external user acceptance testing. The product's beta version is released to a small set of end-users, allowing them to get to grips with the software and provide feedback on the quality. Beta testing intends to catch as many issues as possible through real-world use and customer validation.

Examples of alpha testing


Alpha test cycles take place after initial QA testing, when the product is approximately 60%-80% complete. Each test cycle usually lasts between 1-2 weeks. However, this timeline depends on the number of issues found and deadlines around new feature releases. These are the two alpha test phases:
  • Phase one: During the alpha testing phase, developer and software engineering teams typically use debugging tools to help them understand code behavior. Lots of bugs, defects, and system crashes are expected, along with other problems like discovering missing features and documentation.
  • Phase two: The QA team typically performs the second phase and executes a series of black-box and white-box tests, which we’ll go over in the next section.
What is black-box and white-box testing?
Black-box testing inspects how the software behaves externally without knowing how it works on a code level. In-house QA teams will verify inputs and outputs based on the product requirements. In other words, does the software behave as expected when performing specific actions?
Black-box testing can be categorized into three main types of tests:
  • Functional: tests to verify whether the most critical aspects of the software deliver correct functionality. For example, to confirm that users are unable to sign in using incorrect credentials.
  • Non-functional: checks to see how specific functions are performed. These tests can confirm browser and device compatibility, for instance—or how the system performs under peak and expected load.
  • Regression: inspects whether additional functionality or changes has created a problem elsewhere in the system.
Here are some popular black-box testing techniques:
  • Equivalence class testing: it would be impossible to test all scenarios, so this technique reduces the number of possible test cases to an achievable amount while preserving test coverage.
  • Boundary value testing: determines how well the system handles specific value ranges.
  • Decision table testing: is a testing matrix table with different combinations in each column that test for cause and effect.
White-box testing
On the other hand, white-box testing reviews the software's architecture and coding as opposed to functionality. It's a thorough inspection of the code for issues with inputs and outputs, security, performance, and more. The code is visible to testers; it's also referred to as open box, glass box, and Code-based testing.
White-box testing covers many types of tests; here are some examples of them:
  • Integration testing: this checks whether system components work as expected when integrated.
  • Unit testing: inspects small pieces of code that can be logically separated to ensure it performs as expected.
  • Penetration testing: gains assurance in the system's security by attempting to breach some or all of it.
White-box testing techniques include:
  • Statement coverage: verifies that all possible code statements are executed at least once. It includes all lines, paths, and statements in the code.
  • Multiple condition coverage: checks that all possible combinations of outcome conditions in every decision, and all entry points are triggered at least once.
  • Decision or Branch coverage: this inspects all possible paths. Do conditional loops and if-else statements work efficiently? What causes the system to crash?

Beta testing

Beta testing happens when the software is considered stable enough for customers to use; when it’s approximately 80-90% complete.
The length of your beta test phase depends on your objectives. Usually, 3-6 weeks per test cycle with just 1-2 cycles is normal. Again, depending on how things go, additional cycles are added.
These are the different types of beta testing:
  • Traditional beta testing: the software is given to your end-users, and information on all aspects of the system is gathered from their testing for product improvements.
  • Public beta testing: the software is released to production to collect user data for product improvements. Beta software releases are common. For example, Microsoft often releases beta versions of its software before the real thing.
  • Technical beta testing: the type is performed by internal teams to collect data and feedback.
  • Focused beta testing: the product is made live to gather data on how key functionality operates.
  • Post-release beta testing: the product is released to production to collect data for improvements in future releases.

Alpha and beta testing: pros and cons

Alpha testing

  • Offers thorough and adequate testing
  • Finds out early how reliable the software is
  • Helps to get the product delivered quicker/on time
  • It can turn into a lengthy test execution period
  • Requires a separate test environment
  • Some tests are impossible and can't offer real-world results since they are performed in a virtual environment

Beta testing

  • Reduces the risk of a failure through customer validation
  • Customer feedback helps to improve the quality
  • It tests the post-release infrastructure
  • Helps develop good customer relationships
  • Finds out how ready the system is before it's released
  • Beta testers must know how to use the software
  • Bug and defect tickets duplication is common
  • It may be challenging to maintain participation throughout

Alpha testing vs. beta testing

Alpha testing
Beta testing
Alpha testing is the first phase of user acceptance testing for customer validation. It takes place after initial testing when the software is considered 60%-80% complete.
Beta testing is the second phase of user acceptance testing for customer validation. It comes after the alpha phase when the platform is considered approximately 80-90% complete.
Executed by?
Testing and software engineering teams usually execute alpha tests.
The customer performs beta testing.
Alpha testing typically takes place at the development site using test environments.
Beta testing is at the customer site, in the production environment.
Type of testing
The main focus is the technical aspects of the system, for example, inputs and outputs, security, infrastructure, and reliability.
The main focus is usability, functionality, and UX.
Testing techniques
White-box and black-box testing.
Only black-box testing.
To evaluate the software and code quality. Does it work as per the requirements?  Alpha testing preps the system for the beta phase.
They offer users a guided tour of the product, to find out how they feel about using it. Their likes, dislikes, and suggestions. Beta testing ensures production readiness.
Test cycle length
Each test cycle lasts 1 - 2 weeks.
Each test cycle lasts 3-6 weeks with just 1-2 cycles.

How to use Bugpilot for successful alpha and beta test cycles

Bugpilot understands how manic the alpha and beta test phases can be. Problems with test environments, a growing number of bug and defect tickets, and many other unexpected events to deal with, all while striving to meet milestones. Our bug resolution tool will provide the assistance you need for quicker bug resolution. Here's how:

Bugpilot creates precise bug reports

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Installing Bugpilot's bug-reporting widget means you'll no longer need to rely on the end user to provide the detail required to verify and fix bugs and defects. Bugpilot automatically generates detailed technical bug reports for actionable tickets, including all the technical information you'll need and a session recording. In addition, users can add more context by including their notes and highlighting areas of the screen.

Gain a deeper understand of the problem

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And when it comes to bug information, Bugpilot doesn't stop there. This comprehensive tool includes
to help system administrators and devops teams understand problems by seeing what happens in the back end when the problem occurs. Bugpilot automatically generates console logs, network connection details, and coding errors to verify whether there is a problem or user error.

Fix code quicker

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Bugpilot helps to boost your team's productivity through code-fixing assistance. Developers can fix buggy code quicker with complete documentation about the error and likely root causes, plus production-ready code to fix it.


Integration with popular collaboration and productivity tools, including Slack, ClickUp, Jira, and Notion, will fit seamlessly into your current workflow to improve efficiency and enhance quality. Bugpilot offers over 100+ tools to help your teams work more efficiently during pre and post-production bug resolution.
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Use Bugpilot to get rid of as many bugs as possible before go live

Alpha and beta testing are both types of user acceptance testing intended to determine how well the software meets requirements and to catch as many bugs as possible before go live. QA teams and the customer carry out test phases. To ensure your product is in the best shape possible and delivered on time, it's essential that time isn’t wasted on non-actionable tickets.
Bugpilot equips you with the details needed to fix issues raised in-house and by the customer. And most importantly, it helps teams to avoid wasting time looking into issues raised that aren't issues or are not part of the requirements.
Head over to Bugpilot today to find out how they support SaaS companies in prioritizing, understanding and fixing user-facing bugs. And consider seeing for yourself with a free 14-day trial.

Get automatic notifications when coding errors occur, failed network requests happen, or users rage-click. Bugpilot provides you with user session replay and all the technical info needed to reproduce and fix bugs quickly.

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