With the release of Windows 8.1 Preview and talking about how Preview releases are nothing more than Beta software, yet seeing that Microsoft tagged App-V 5.0 and UE-V 2.0 with the word "Beta", I got to wondering what criteria Microsoft uses to determine the differences between Preview and Beta. My first feeling was it was nothing more than a marketing term, since Previews are generally offered as public, almost consumer-like, releases and Betas are geared more toward the IT crowd. I thought about it a bit more and then decided to hit up one of my Microsoft buddies to get clarification.  What he told me was totally opposite than what I thought, and, in my opinion, is a dangerous and risky course for Microsoft.

What he told me is this…

A Preview is not considered even Alpha code, let alone Beta. Previews are far less stable than Beta releases. Previews are used more as a tool to announce major policy shifts and give the public a taste while still holding out some tweaks and surprises for the final release. In other words, Previews are the initial artist's sketch before visualizing the final drawing.

Beta releases, on the other hand, contain all the core components with all the functionality already baked in. Beta releases are about receiving kudos for a job well done, while customers test to ensure all the cool features they need are included and they work in multiple scenarios. Some functions may still need some work, and some additional polishing may need to be performed, but the product or tool is extremely close to being done.

This serves to provide yet another reason why you shouldn't install Preview releases in production or on equipment that you, or your company, rely on. I mean, we already know this, right?

So, with that said, I think it's appropriate to share these recent links again: