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 PostPost subject: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:05 pm 
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I'm studying philosophy and care deeply about psychology and psychological reasoning.

So, I asked myself (a 10-year-linux-only-user): "Why do I collect or even care about Windows-betas?". There's absolutely no practical reason for it since I do not use these OSs in everyday-life, and I barely learn about things that "normal" people care about (who cares about, for example, WinFS or Phodeo in Longhorn-builds? There's practically no use to that, since they do not appear on "real" computers).

But still, I do collect these versions and care about them.

My own result is that:

1. I'm interested in the way technology works out (I'm a software-developer and I like to read about how betas are designed to learn about my own software).
2. I'm a bit of a social outcast and, unconsciously, I may see especially cancelled Windows-versions (Longhorn, Neptune, ...) as something to relate to, something nobody cares for and thus understands, like I've felt as a teenager when I noticed I was not a "everyday normal guy". So, unconsciously, I believe my brain makes a connection: "If you honour the cancelled 'outcasts' of Windows, you'll indirectly honour yourself". It's like somebody caring for disabled people who get's a good feeling out of that because he knows nobody else will do that. And betas, as such, are, more or less, "disabled" (in the way that they're incomplete and do not work exactly as they should from a normal societies point of view).

So. What are your psychological reasons to care about Betas? Why not be just an expert on the final product that you're really going to use from day-to-day, but instead spent a lot of time and energy into products that are not (and never will be) finished and working correctly?


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:00 pm 
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Because I believe it is very interesting to see the histories of operating systems and how they evolved into the operating systems we use today, and because we go through a lot of virtual machines, ISO's, etc. I think it is a very interesting hobby.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 3:35 pm 
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For me,

interesting hacks that are no longer relevent and possibly even hinder emulation ; getting these systems up and running are fun puzzles to solve

uncovering very clever ideas long forgotten in the windows / unix world of today

discovering overly ambitious projects simply not feasible at the time just to pop up once again decades later as the Next Big Thing

a reminder of the very many things we now take for granted, like not having to choose between stability, security and performance

it's always fun teaching an antiquated system new tricks


Last edited by nixie on Wed Jan 17, 2018 5:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:36 pm 
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This is a really nice topic. I think I care about betas because I love to know how things keep evolving and changing, while they slowly morph into the final product. Also, I love studying history, from the beginning when Earth was an hot place full of volcanoes till the present days, just like I'm interested in Windows betas from the Chicago ones to the Windows 10 ones for example. I also seem to be like this with games betas and maybe even with other things that do not regard the technology world.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Fri Jan 19, 2018 12:10 am 
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I can relate to what you said OP, I think you explained my feelings very well.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:18 pm 
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For me it's mostly about saving information that can be lost forever. Many of these builds don't have a lot of copies, and some probably don't even exist in official archives of the companies that created them. I imagine in recent years the bigger companies have more organized archives that actually keep everything, but older stuff (like MS-DOS) and things created by smaller companies and private people might get lost or intentionally destroyed.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:22 pm 
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Thanks for all the nice replies!

Especially ppc_digger's response is very enlightening and may also give onza110 (and me, too!) to get another view of what we're doing. Those are not exclusive views, but very much inclusive, too (meaning that one individual can have both views inside his head without inner conflicts). The same is true with Valerios, nixies and DiskingRounds answers. All those different views on the same topic, for me, at least, are very interesting to see and they all shed some light on my own way of doing things that I haven't seen before.

So, thanks for all of you participating in this thread for showing their thoughts on this matter. :-)


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Sat Jan 20, 2018 11:34 pm 
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This is a very interesting query. Why do people hunt down and store what usually results in gigabytes worth of stored content? What compels them to expose themselves to allegations of being digital hoarders? I think I have a good answer.

Back in 1997, I was exposed to the digital world in one large and unconstrained dose. I went from asking what usenet was, to acting as an FTP courier for a Warez group. From one high speed FTP to another. In those days, one quickly learned that the FTP client that allowed this feature was the dominant one. If we compare now and then, we see these types of FTP clients are no longer in demand. Thus we see, that these applications serve as historical records of a technological time period. How about those broken usenet messages? Out of nine parts, six are available. Curse the NNTP provider, didn't we?

But what about those Operating System betas? Hmm. We saw Windows 95 become Windows 98. We saw the introduction of Active Desktop and then saw its demise. Those of us who witnessed this, can safely say with some form of authority, that Windows 10 reintroduced a really horrible revision of Active Desktop. We saw NT5 become Windows 2000. We all rushed and tested our favorite applications and games. We played and tested with a final report issued of our experiences. Descent Freespace works, I declared. Many years later, this very game was open sourced.

I quickly learned about the various compression archives. ARJ, RAR, and ZIP. We all struggled to learn how to decompress multi-volume archives. Only those of us who had these experiences, can giggle to ourselves when someone cracks a joke about actually paying for WinRAR. I cracked a joke about a sexless marriage once. Where the only screaming a man experienced in his bedroom, was his unsilenced modem downloaded a multitude of ARJ archives. The only time the guy broke a sweat and cursed, was when he expected WinARJ to do what it was supposed to. And who the hell was this WinACE guy? Jesus Christ, how many of these applications did we need to have?

Speaking of NNTP, why did those nice people wrap the goodies in some many different archives. I explained this once to a younger fella. I told him that it assisted in the protection and validity of the files due to the unstable nature of early NNTP servers. This was long before commercial NNTP servers with mindless amounts of retention. Those were the days, eh?

I went from some loser pirating software and wasting time with beta software, to an authentic software historian who can answer many mundane questions about the Good Old Days. I was around when BeOS first came out and remember when it went under. I remember reading about the hack that resulted with the Quake 1.01 source being leaked. I have the full release of Golgoltha. I remember wondering why Windows 95 and Windows 98 would arbitrarily lock up and freeze, only to find out that someone had 'nuked' me.

These days, I get to listen to the self-described 'experts' go on and on with their expertise, but silently and internally, I know that they know not what they speak of.

That's why.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:46 am 
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For me it's really interesting to look at early builds/prototypes. It gives me insights of what developers might have been thinking in the making process.

I'm an speedrunner and I keep safe track of all my personal achievements (as a metaphor, you can think of my early runs as betas and the more optimized later ones being a "full version"). It helps me a lot in recognizing that I've made progress, something that might really hard if you only look at very close events. In that sense, betas and prototypes serve to me as a source of motivation, allowing me to keep going and see how things change and evolve


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:34 pm 
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Thanks to you, Pandora, and damaged, for your insights, too!

I found one other thing, especially on Longhorn and Neptune, that's really interesting to me as a programmer. From an only-felt point-of-view, big companies sometimes do more "voodoo" than programming. But insights into why, e.g., Longhorn failed show that they're only people, too, doing everyday-normal-programming stuff. They try, they fail, they try again etc.

This is very relatable, for my own experiences are pretty much the same. Sometimes, projects are ill-defined, a lot of work is put into them just to see that the way of doing them doesn't work out. And with that experience (like Omega 13 in Longhorn), you can start again and do better.

I remember, but cannot quite find, that "grep" had very much the same project-history. This, too, just makes it a little more "humane".

"Errare humanum est", to err is human.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Fri Nov 30, 2018 2:37 am 
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We setup new systems and establish new conventions or norms based on 'estimates' of what we think might work, usually we do that based on recent history.. but if there is nothing to compare.. we reach further back into history.

Think about a Church for example, or a new political system for some future off world colony.. they might look back to Greek Democracy.. or some Laws by an Ancient Sumerian.. if they are 'remembered' incorrectly we can end up building in 'bugs' to the system that were long worked out over history and risk end up repeating mistakes.

Often even today when I write scripts or programs.. I look at models of past, even GUIs that saw wide spread use.. and try to start from there. There are many layers and ways at looking at a complete software system, it can be analyzed from many angles.. user, programmer, assembly code writer, c programmer, ect.. you just can't predict from what angle it might be analyzed or judged. (But) you can try to archive and establish provenance as to the validity and truth to the copy as a representation of what came before.. even if you can't establish a working virtual machine copy.. there is still worth to being able to look at the code, how problems were solved.

And if computer power does evolved in a whiplash fashion in the next few years.. then inhuman minds may accelerate the need and consumption of archives as piles of resources rather than rubbish. A.I. may take a look at these archives and learn things we could never imagine a single human mind could learn in a life time. The code is a reflection of real people and their times.. it is an ambassador from our time to some future time.. a way for us to communicate... and for all versions of 'us' then and now and then again in the far future to know each other.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Thu Dec 20, 2018 5:20 pm 
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In my particular case:

I like seeing ideas in betas that were later removed in the final ptoduct.

In some cases, I find that the developers were wrong in removing/changing a particular part/feature of a piece of software.

For example, Microsoft decided to change the sound produced with the final release of their WMA 9 codec. The beta definitely sounded better at multiple bitrates/sampling rates. I like being able to encode my audio with the beta version.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:13 am 
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For me, one example that would stand out to me is the Longhorn betas.
I care a lot about Longhorn, as I have a lot of nostalgia for it. I was a big techie as a kid already (turned 20 a week ago), and around 2007 as I just got my Commodore 64, I remember fondly reading about Windows Vista and being amazed by its UI. Skeuomorphism still is something I have a big soft spot for too.

It's one of the reasons I plan to build an ultimate machine of sorts, specifically for Windows Longhorn builds. It's gonna be in a Compaq Presario case similar to what I had back then and where I started doing my first PC building in, which I will paint and mod to a blue/orange motif (I also started experimenting with that on said case, sadly the original one I had has been long gone), and it will house an AMD Athlon 64 Socket 939 system, as its time appropriate, I like AMD, and I still have an Athlon 64 keychain hanger I got as a kid at a tech convention.

Lots, and lots of nostalgia for me. I'd call that a psychological reason :)

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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:14 am 
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I ultimately enjoy looking back on betas and leaked builds (specifically Longhorn and Whistler) to get that nostalgia moment. Its like a satisfying moment and brings back so much fond memories of testing them during those times and looking back at how young I was but also, seeing how these beta's/leaks develop into the final RTM OS. This is why I enjoy being a digital hoarder, its better then having actual physical stuff laying everywhere in your home right where it makes you look bad? =P


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 4:16 pm 
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For me it’s becuae I like to get a chance to experience ideas and other aspects of beta builds that never made it into the final product for one reason or another. It’s a shame really when really good ideas are pulled for seamingly no reason. That is why I like exploring various Windows and other betas.


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 PostPost subject: Re: Psychological reasons to care about betas        Posted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 12:10 am 
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my reason can be summed up in three words:

RTM got boring.


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