Tech News on ZDNet reports: "Microsoft plans next week to charge a nominal fee for Office 2007 Beta 2 downloads, a move that runs counter to the practice held by most software companies."
The article now has dozens of flame threads complaining about it. Why not charge for it? A nominal fee of $1.50 doesn't seem onerous to me.
I've often wondered about the viability of charging for beta; it does give customers a heads-up and often a competitive advantage over others. But the real question is "what is the point of beta testing?" What's the second word? TESTING! Beta testing is about verifying that your product works in environments that you cannot test in the lab. Charging customers seems to fly in the face of what we're trying to accomplish. In fact, enterprise vendors would probably benefit from more internal testing and much more limited field testing. Microsoft and others with millions of users may want millions of testers; enterprise vendors only need a few. Charging a few beta testers really isn't worth it.