Release Candidate

Dennis Faas's picture

Release Candidate (RC)

The term release candidate (RC) refers to a software version with the potential to be a final product, ready to be released to the public for final testing.

In this stage of product stabilization, all product features have been designed, coded and tested through one or more Beta cycles with no known software bugs (defects).

During the 1990s, Apple Inc. used the term "golden master" for its release candidates, and the final golden master was the general availability release.

Gamma, Delta, Omega, Zenith Release Candidates

Other terms include gamma (and occasionally also delta, and perhaps other Greek letters) for versions that are substantially complete, but still under test, and omega or zenith for final testing of versions that are believed to be bug-free and may go into production at any time (gamma, delta, and omega are, respectively, the third, fourth, and last letters of the Greek alphabet).

Gamma Test vX.0 Public Release

Some users disparagingly refer to release candidates and even final "point oh" releases as "gamma test" software, suggesting that the developer has chosen to use its customers to test software that is not truly ready for general release.

Often beta testers, if privately selected, will be billed for using the release candidate as though it were a finished product.

A release is called "code complete" when the development team agrees that no entirely new source code will be added to this release. There may still be source code changes to fix defects. There may still be changes to documentation and data files, and to the code for test cases or utilities. New code may be added in a future release.

Alpha and Beta Releases (Initial Development)

An alpha release is the very first stage of software production and is (usually) an "internal only" testing stage that is not released to the public.

The beta release follows the alpha stage and is the usually the very first "prototype" software released to the general public for the purpose of software and usability testing. Users participating in this stage provide feedback to the developer, so that any malfunctions found can be reported and fixed. Beta software can be unstable and could cause crashes or data loss.

The major difference between a beta release and a release candidate (RC) is that the release candidate is a more finalized state.

Related: Release to Manufacturing (RTM)

Release to Manufacturing (RTM) refers to retail mass-production of software contexts, where the software is sold as part of a bundle in a related computer hardware sale. The software and related hardware is ultimately to be available and sold on mass / public basis at retail stores to indicate that the software has met a defined quality level and is ready for mass retail distribution.

This document is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), which means that you can copy and modify it as long as the entire work (including additions) remains under this license.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet