Betas - not for general consumption.
A Susan Bradley blog post today reminded me once again that people are treating beta test versions of software as if they are production-ready.
Sadly, when "beta test" is too long for inclusion, the word "test" gets dropped, instead of the word "beta".
Most people would be well aware that a "test" version of software would be inappropriate for regular use, but relatively few are aware of what "beta" means.
It's a Greek letter, and as the second letter in the Greek alphabet (alpha-beta, you get the picture), it's the second part of the process in testing a piece of software.
Alpha testing is the first part, when you first have a more-or-less complete version of the software to test, and you run it through a bunch of internal tests to see that it does more or less what you designed it to do.
Beta testing follows, where you give the application to regular users to see whether it works properly for them.
Beta software has been known to wipe out entire operating system installations, and is generally unsupported. Choosing whether or not to run a beta test version of software is an exercise in risk management. Don't engage in it blindly.
Just last week, we wiped out a colleague's system by trying to enable BitLocker in Vista. You need to pass certain requirements in order for BitLocker for work, and the only way we could see to test for those requirements was to enable BitLocker and see if it worked. It worked in one respect - the drive was encrypted - but in another, important, respect (reading the encryption key off a thumb-drive), it failed.