A test of software carried out at the user's location and using actual data.
The first test of newly developed hardware or software in a laboratory setting. When the first round of bugs has been fixed, the product goes into beta test with actual users. For custom software, the customer may be invited into the vendor's facilities for an alpha test to ensure the client's vision has been interpreted properly by the developer. See beta test and testing types.
New technology products, for example, pass through "Alpha tests," which prove concepts in protected environments; "Beta tests," in which the product is subjected to extensive acceptance-testing by a set of preferred customers; and, finally, "release-based upgrade," in which field experience is built into a regular program of product upgrading.