Back in my programming days, the beta version was the first version that a few selected users could test out, in the knowledge that it was not 100% finished, working and robust.
However, it seems that ‘beta’ has been redefined by the Cabinet Office, who stated that beta is a standard labelling practice for a digital service that is fully operational.
Why does this matter? Well, the software at issue is the web portal that will manage the Kent Access Permit system, to ensure that HGV’s travelling to Dover and the Folkestone Eurotunnel have the correct paperwork, and so we don’t see the huge queues that some are predicting.
The online ‘Smart Freight’ system will evidently start beta testing in mid-December and the final version is expected in April, 4 months after it needs to be working.
The Register has a more detailed write-up.