Beta testing is a great field to get into if you want to try something and contribute to making it better before it hits the market. Before I go into listing the best websites, there are some helpful hints you should know about beta testing:
- You must be willing to commit time to the beta test!
- Not every nice beta test will come your way. So to get those nice beta tests, sometimes you have to contribute to the smaller ones first.
- Sometimes, the company requires certain perquisites before beta testing such as having an Xbox 360 with Xbox live and gold if it's a video game beta test.
- Do not get your hopes up if you did not get accepted into the current beta test. There are always more beta tests that come along in the future.
- Sometimes, beta tests have strict NDA (Non-disclosure agreement)s and the treatment of pictures of beta hardware/software and/or do not tolerate cussing or vulgar activity.
Note: All of the below mentioned websites I have personally participated in a beta test or found free software at them. Please do not ask me about video game beta information for combat testing. Under my NDA with combat testing, I cannot disclose beta pictures or beta information and if you wish to know what they are beta testing, then either sign-up or visit the website below to see.
Now that we have established these notes, let's look at the list I compiled of some of the top beta testing and free software companies/websites:
Combat testing ( http://www.combattesting.com ) - combat testing is a video game beta testing website. They have a partnership with EA (Electronic Arts) to beta test their games. If you really want to beta test an EA video game they are the best place to find a beta for one. You must have an internet connection to download games and beta test them. Xbox games require Xbox live gold as usual and PlayStation may or may not require such services. Edit: Seems an equivalent has been opened up by the owner: http://www.elitetestingservices.com?
- http://connect.microsoft.com - Beta testing website for Microsoft services, games, and programs. Xbox updates, computer programs, and other private beta tests happen through this website. Xbox updates may require Xbox live gold to apply to test them. On the rare occasion, you will get to beta test hardware. Some of the stricter beta tests do not allow you to release information until they are over with.
- http://www.codeplex.com - A nice website for finding free and open source software. You can find software by category or search by name. This website also allows developers to make their own software and put ads on their project page to make money off it. You will find many beta releases of open source software here.
- http://www.fogproject.org/ - A nice and easy to use computer cloning solution for imaging multiple computers at once can be customized depending on preference or workplace policies. Hint: It seems hard at first but the hardest part is file permissions but the majority of setup is easy. This is currently used at my work for imaging the 800 or higher number of computers that we are required to maintain. It takes about 25-30 minutes on average during time trials with a gigabit connection to image 30 computers (it can do more in that time but that's the max we have had running that finished in that amount of time).
http://www.onlinebeta.com - Now http://www.betabound.com - Centercode's login page for beta testing. Centercode offers a variety of beta tests ranging from video games to developer tools to hardware tests. They have some NDAs depending on what is beta tested so read the fine print carefully! (The video games are more than likely going to have an NDA depending on where they are distributed).
- http://www.sourceforge.net - Similar to CodePlex in their offerings of open source software except its organization is a little different.
- http://free.avg.com - The official webpage on avg's website for their famous free anti-virus software. I have used McCafee at work and compared to my home computer with AVG it runs very slow. If you are into customizable anti-virus software, then look into AVG. It is very useful for customizing features such as gamer mode when in a full screen application which consumes lower resources.
- http://reconstructme.net - Website to download software for the Kinect that can 3d scan objects or humans into a computer to aid in 3d modeling for a movie or in the process of CAD design on the computer.
- http://channel9.msdn.com/ - Free software website for developers wishing to learn more and play with free software samples to see what the code does.
- http://galagosearch.org/ - Free search engine search application that requires some thought in running. Make sure apache maven is setup correctly before using the search engine! Some technology support or information retrieval classes in CIT use this search engine.
Please inform me of some more if you know of any to add to this list! I will update the list as the comments start pouring in.