The trouble with prolonged public betas like Lightroom 3’s is that it’s harder to make a big splash when the time comes to announce the real thing. People become used to a big leap in image quality and take it for granted. They know they can now manage the videos their camera takes, and start asking why they can’t manage any file types they want. They know that when they go back to a folder, they’ll see all the images that should be there and start moaning about the bizarre ways they used to hide their images and forget they’re there. And even if the public beta doesn’t contain lens distortion correction – a feature as revolutionary in raw converters as dust spotting once was – they hear announcements that it’s on its way and have seen the elegance of the implementation in Photoshop. Is anyone going on about the point tone curve now? When it finally hits the shelves, there’s a bit of “apart from x, y, z… what have the Romans ever done for us?”

There are alternatives. You could always try to leave your customers in such dispiriting darkness that the next release’s real impact is to prevent any but the blindly-loyal from jumping ship. Another strategy is for a drunken developer to leave the new product in a bar, then call the local police to kick down doors in the middle of the night. By comparison, and in these tough times, isn’t a low key launch a touch more dignified?