What is a soft launch in software?
In software, a soft launch is the release of some new software to a small audience, as opposed to releasing that software to the full audience that the software is intended for.
What is the reason software launches are done?
The reason soft launches are performed is so that any bugs, feedback, and other data can be gathered before the fully intended audience starts to use the software product. So, if some software is going to be used by 10 million people, then a soft launch may be performed with just 10,000 people instead so that just those 10,000 people (and not 10 million people) are affected by any bugs discovered. And, the people in charge of the software can figure out if anything needs to be majorly changed or tweaked in the software as well.
Soft launches are used for beta testing
Beta testing is when a limited group of people – actual users who are not part of the team responsible for developing the software – try out the software to find any bugs, and allowing the developers to see how people interact with the software. So, the terms soft launch and beta testing are very much related – because beta testing is done during a soft launch.
Example of “soft launch” in a sentence
"We are scheduled to do a soft launch for our new website in 3 weeks. If that goes well, we'll release the new website to everyone in about 3-4 months."