Not long ago, before a show would open on Broadway, it would run in places like Boston and Philadelphia first, so the director and cast cold fine tune their performances and the script before opening “for real”. Often the show that opened on Broadway would be quite different from the original.
In the same way, software makers release “beta” versions of their software, and usually give it away free to people who are willing to test it and report back on bugs and performance, so they can fine tune the software before the “official” release.
Beta is an acronym, a substitute word, for new introduction or initial issue. In the case of Beta Version of Windows Me, that means the initial issue or introduction issue of Windows Me.
Often this will allow users to know the Beta version is stillawaiting mass customer reaction to the new issue, and perhaps the the reporting of the host of malfunctions that come with a Beta version.