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These days the popular thing to do is to release software in Beta status, the Beta being more of a status symbol (and to cover your back in case the software doesn’t work) rather than anything.

Unfortunately, it appears to be making companies sloppy. Beta is one thing, but a lot of this software is more alpha quality. In fact, in some cases I’d argue it’s not even that – it’s blatantly not been tested at all before being released.

The latest of these is Apples Safari 3.0.4. Promising lots of improvements, many, many XP users are finding it constantly crashed when being launched. The Apple forums have a “workaround” which many are finding doesn’t work. And I’m one of them.

In fact, I decided to re-install 3.0.3 and found that too crashed. This time, however, the workaround worked and I’m happily working with that version for the time being.

Let’s see how long it takes Apple to fix the issue….

And here’s another. Netgear released a firmware update for a range of its wireless routers on the 3rd November. It worked in so-far as that it stopped most wireless connections from working. So, well tested, eh?

The Netgear forums were a hive of activity, with lots of users having problems. The workaround, as with the Apple issue, was to roll back to a previous release.

Except that today – 16 days later – the same broken firmware is still on their website for download.

Maybe they don’t read their own forums and don’t know about it? Except I reported it a week ago to their technical team and they advised me it “had been passed to the appropriate department”. Hmmm.

And that’s not even masquerading as a beta release!

What’s going on here?