Every alpha or beta release of software comes with a disclaimer of sorts—basically that you shouldn’t expect the software to be stable and you shouldn’t trust it for your main productivity. But it’s hard to know how seriously to take such disclaimers.
GMail was in beta testing for years before finally being released. And almost the whole time it was in beta, plenty of users were using it as their main email account.
In the past, I’ve used alpha and beta releases of Ubuntu Linux and have had only minor problems (an application crashing every now and then)—actually nothing that I didn’t also occasionally experience with so-called “stable” official releases.
Then again, ReactOS comes with a disclaimer that it’s alpha software, and that disclaimer should be taken seriously. I tried to use ReactOS, and it basically just froze up after every reboot. It was virtually unusable. Anyone interested in ReactOS for serious productivity would be better off using Wine in Linux.
Very shortly after I got my MyTouch 3G Android phone (also known as the HTC Magic), I installed a custom ROM on it called Cyanogen. It’s a very popular rooted ROM to install. I’d used that for months, and it was great. Recently, out of curiosity, I tried out the latest “experimental” (not “stable”) ROM from Cyanogen. For a couple of hours, it seemed good. Then I plugged it in to charge it for the night. In the morning, the screen was dead. There was a light on at the top. But any button I pressed appeared to do nothing. I was in a minor panic. Had I bricked my phone? Did I totally destroy it?
So I took out the battery, put it back in, powered up my phone in recovery mode and flashed back the latest Nandroid backup, and everything was good. I’m back on stable Cyanogen, and I think that’s where I’m going to stay!