In 2008, power users tested a parade of new webapps and software bearing the "beta" disclaimer. Take a look at the beta releases that knocked your socks off the most this past year.
Prior to its Guinness World Record-setting launch in June, in true open-source fashion Mozilla rapidly iterated Firefox 3 beta releases and brave testers ate 'em up, excited by the Firefox 3's promising new features.
While not officially out in beta form until yesterday, the Windows 7 Preview release made the rounds on file-sharing networks across the internet. Due out in 2009, here are the top 10 things to look forward to in Windows 7.
Ubuntu "Hardy Heron" and "Intrepid Ibex"
New Ubuntu releases always score high on the interest-o-meter for free software advocates, and the beta releases of version 8.04 "Hardy Heron" and 8.10 "Intrepid Ibex" were no different.
Just this month it officially graduated out of beta, but when the Google Chrome beta launched in September it added renewed interest and heightened competition in the ongoing browser wars. See our Power User's Guide to Google Chrome.
Jailbreaking your iPhone and iPod touch to run non-Apple-approved apps was one of your favourite activities of 2008, so when one of the easy tools to do that—PwnageTool—updated to support Apple's new iPhone software, you rushed to get the download. These days PwnageTool is on version 2.2 and supports the most recent iPhone software version; Windows users want to grab QuickPwn to do their jailbreak.
The private, invite-only beta release of DropBox generated one of the longest comment threads here on Lifehacker all year—made of readers begging for an invite. Nowadays, invites are no longer necessary for the public file storage service. See how Adam uses DropBox as the ultimate password syncer.
Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1
Mozilla and Google aren't the only companies working on a new browser. This little organisation called Microsoft still holds the majority marketshare of browser usage, and the next iteration of Internet Explorer— IE 8 Beta 1—is a preview of what the rest of the world will be using on to browser the web next year.
Though it graduated from beta this past November, the public beta of XBMC Atlantis' promise to bring the favourite open-source media player to all hardware got lots of interest and attention.
Ubiquity Firefox Extension Prototype
One of the most interesting bits of browser innovation we saw this year, the Ubiquity prototype adds key commands and webapp integration that makes you go "ok, we're living in the future." See the Ubiquity video demonstration to get a preview.
BumpTop, the eye-popping new desktop interface for Windows turns heads in its amazing demonstration video, as a user moves, piles, fans, and lassos digital files the way you would paper documents on a physical desktop. You've still got to sign up to get an invite into the BumpTop beta to try it out yourself.