An Alpha software organization uses the latest stable versions of
their tools and development languages. It
moves as rapidly as prudent and possible to the latest release of, for instance, Python,
gcc, or .NET.
A Beta software organization may not be using the latest versions but it has plans to move to the latest as soon as possible. Beta organizations have solid dates or triggers for the migration. They are either waiting for particular tool vendors to catch up with a language release or for some other part of their own organization to do a roll out.
Gamma software organizations are in limbo. They have no plans to upgrade. These are the organizations which drifting along in Java 1.3.1 or .NET 1.1 or some pre-Cambrian version of C++.
Organizations can get caught in Gamma-hood for a variety of reasons. One is client dependency. If you are shipping software to external clients and they can't/won't upgrade their systems, you're caught. If you're running on your own servers, Alpha-hood is yours to lose, and it's a shame that so many organizations do lose it.
It's easy to fall off the upgrade path, but, having visited many teams, I notice that the ones that don't fall off perform better.
A team's upgrade policy seems to be a reliable measure of health and seriousness.