Beta is a term used by software and game developers to indicate that the software is still in the early development stages. Beta comes after Alpha and is mostly used to find bugs, test features, or see how others may use the software. There are often multiple stages of a beta release, which include, but are not limited to, "closed" and "public" stages. Closed beta allows for "friends and family" or invited guests to participate, while public allows for anyone who wishes to join. After beta has finished the software is generally released as a finished product to the public.
Second Life's beta had a period of closed beta testing start on November, 2002 and public beta testing from April, 2003 to June, 2003. Beta testing for major point updates to Second Life continue on the Preview Grid.
The term "Beta" is also frequently used to denote all of 2003, or at least the period of time between Beta itself and the introduction of a completely new look for the interface in Version 1.2, as well as drastic economic changes.