The long national nightmare for early adopting Mac users is over: Apple says it’ll issue the long awaited public beta test version of its OS X Yosemite 10.10 operating system as a free download this Thursday to those who are willing to sign up for the testing program. Apple first unveiled Yosemite weeks ago at its annual WWDC developer conference and revealed that it would be made available to the public while still in the testing phase. But while the company began taking signups on its website via email, there had never been any followup or timeframe for launch until now.
The news comes as Apple’s Mac sales are up eighteen percent amid an otherwise mostly struggling PC market, giving the Cupertino company hope that it can take a more dominant position within what’s left of the declining PC era, even as it attempts to stay at the forefront of the mobile market with its iPhone and iPad offerings. Apple has taken steps over the past few years to morph its Mac software interface into something more familiar to those already using its iOS mobile touchscreen devices, first with OS X 10.9 Mavericks last year, and now with the new OS X 10.10 Yosemite this summer.
The Yosemite operating system won’t be available in finished form until the fall of this year, when it will roll out alongside still-unannounced new Mac hardware products while also being made available as a free software upgrade. But the public beta testing program, which Apple has conducted rarely for its OS X system software over the years, allows for two things to happen.
One is that early adopters can dive in and try out the software now, quenching their ongoing thirst for new Apple products in a year where the company has thus far been largely quiet while urging investors to remain patient for the mother lode of products coming later in 2014. The second is that by allowing hundreds of thousands of Mac users of varying skill levers to volunteer to play around with OS X 10.10 Yosemite while it’s still being finished by Apple’s developers, the wide range of feedback will allow the in-house team to move more quickly on stomping out bugs and to steer the interface more toward what the beta testers are looking for.
There is an inherent risk in running beta test software of any kind, more so when it comes to operating systems, which power the entire computer and act as the underlying platform between software apps and hardware functionality. That explains why Apple has waited to release the OS X Yosemite public beta until now, weeks after it had been released to registered developers of Mac software.
Developers are more likely to install beta-test operating systems like Yosemite on a spare piece of test hardware, making the risk minimal if the software gets corrupted. Mainstream users are more likely to install the Yosemite beta on their primary Mac, meaning they’d lose everything if it went belly-up and they didn’t have a proper backup. Hence why Apple took the extra time to bring the Yosemite software along to a more stable, safe place before serving it up to public testers. Those still wanting to sign up can do so on Apple’s beta page, but should hurry, as it’s being limited to the first million Mac users who sign up.