|05 Nov 2009||#4|
Here is some detailed info.
In contrast to alpha and beta versions, the pre-alpha is not feature complete
Milestone versions include specific sets of functions and are released as soon as the functionality is complete
Nightly builds are versions that are usually automatically checked out from the revision control system and built, typically overnight
The alpha build of the software is the build to the internal software testers, that is, people different from the software engineers, sometimes to the public
Community Technology Preview/CTP
CTP stands for Community Technology Preview. It's generally an incomplete preview of a new technology in progress. These usually come out before beta and are a way to gather feedback from the community during the development of a product.
"Beta" is a nickname for software which has passed the alpha testing stage of development and has been released to users for software testing before its official release. It is the prototype of the software that is released to the public.
The term release candidate (RC) refers to a version with potential to be a final product, ready to release unless fatal bugs emerge.
An escrow build means code development has ceased as developers and beta testers hunt for "recall class" (showstopper) bugs; essentially, it is candidate RTM code.
The term "release to manufacturing" or "release to marketing". RTM happens prior to general availability (GA) when the product is released to the public.
General availability (GA)
General availability (GA) is the point where all necessary commercialization activities have been completed and the software has been made available to the general market either via the web or physical media. In some areas of software development it is at this stage that the release is referred to as a gold release.
A web release is a means of software delivery that utilizes the Internet for distribution. No physical media are produced in this type of release mechanism by the manufacturer. This is sometimes also referred to as Release To Web (RTW).
A boxed copy is a physical version of the final product, printed on a disc that is complete with disc graphic art.
Hotfixes are one-off solutions to a specific problem: they are tested briefly, then given directly to customers. A knowledge base article is written to document their existence, but the hotfix itself is not posted publicly; customers must call support to receive them. They are not normally cumulative.
General Distribution Release or GDR
A GDR is somewhere in between (Hotfixes & Service packs). They typically contain one large fix, or several related fixes, and receive a moderate amount of testing. As it turns out, our GDR will contain a lot of fixes -- more than some SPs.
Service packs contain a large number of fixes.
Sometimes software companies stop selling or supporting their software products (e.g., not releasing new patches). At this point the product will be said to be in the status of "legacy", "vintage", "abandon" or "end of life."
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