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Shipping "beta" software

So I finally broke down and downloaded the free version of RealPlayer.  (Needed it to view some educational videos.)  After clicking the "free download" button on the front page, I was taken to a new page and prompted to download RealPlayer 10.  However, buried in the fine print at the bottom of the page is this notice:

"RealPlayer 10 is a beta version of our software. You will be notified in the future when your beta software will require updating. ..."

Mind you, I wasn't signing up as a beta tester -- I was just approaching Real's site as an average consumer and downloading the default software.  The site doesn't ask for beta testing reports, or even explain for the non-techie what "beta software" means.

This is crazy.  Either RealPlayer 10 is ready for prime time as a final release, or it isn't and needs additional beta testing -- by actual beta testers, not consumers. 

My guess is that some pointy-haired boss decided that the program wasn't quite stable enough, but felt the need to ship the product anyway.  So, they insert this disclaimer as cover-your-ass -- if the program flakes out and consumers complain, the company can say "hey, it was only beta."  However, this excuse won't carry any weight for the average consumers -- if this "beta" software doesn't work, they'll just blame Real for shipping crappy software.

Sorry to rant.  I know that picking on RealPlayer is old hat.... <g>

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, January 29, 2004

I wonder if it has to do with a 3rd part agreement where certain sites are customizing their real video streams to Real Player 10 and they had to ship otherwise nobody would be able to view the movie.
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Demand your educational videos be shipped in an alternate format or use the Windows Media Classic "Real Alternative" player... You'll be glad you did.

I will never, ever, ever install any version of RealPlayer on any system... did I mention never?  The first couple of versions weren't so bad, but anything from "G2" or so is basically unusable.  It is like they hired user interface experts and asked them to design the worst possible interface.  Even by "programmer UI" standards it is completely horrible.  I won't even mention the gross bloat, the fact that it tries to trick you into mapping a lot of filetypes you don't want mapped to it, or the spyware aspects of it.

Mister Fancypants
Thursday, January 29, 2004

> Demand your educational videos be shipped in an alternate format or use the Windows Media Classic "Real Alternative" player... You'll be glad you did. <

I would if I could.  Unfortunately, the videos are free lectures from the semi-defunct ArsDigita University.  There's a rueful statement in the FAQ about why the lectures are in RealVideo format, and why it's not possible to convert them:

Robert Jacobson
Thursday, January 29, 2004

yeah, Real suxxs. my girlfriend wanted to view a funny 1 minutes movie (what you receive in email). it was in rm format.

I did:

1. registry and system backup
2. install real
3. play video
4. deinstall real
5. restore system and registry

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Real player is the best media player in th.........BUFFERING BUFFERING BUFFERING....e world! Don't insult the great Real!

Thursday, January 29, 2004

I have the same problem. There are some lecture files I would like to watch, but after being burned by this "spyware bug-motel" a few times in the pat, I really do not under any circumstance want any Real products near my system again. Are there any alternatives for watching these .rm files?

Just me (Sir to you)
Friday, January 30, 2004

You might try to find a Linux-using friend with mplayer installed; it can play the one realvideo file I had lying around. (I believe it loads up the Windows DLLs.)

There appears to be a Windows port of mplayer, but I have no idea how well it works in this particular instance.

Friday, January 30, 2004

Use Real Alternative - download from:

"Real Alternative will allow you to play RealMedia files without having to install the official RealPlayer. You do need a media player that is capable of playing RealMedia files. The included Media Player Classic supports it. Supported are RealAudio (.ra .rpm), RealVideo (.rm .ram .rmvb), RealText (.rt), and ReadPix (.rp). Not fully supported are: Streaming smil files (.smi .smil) and Realmedia embedded in webpages."

Gordon Hartley
Friday, January 30, 2004

Thanks for the link. I haven't installed real media in years.
Friday, January 30, 2004

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