APPLE USERS with a sense of adventure are now able to join the company's beta programme and install pre-release builds of the Mac OS X operating system.
The OS X beta programme, which has hitherto been available only to recognised developers, brings Apple into line with rival Microsoft, which has been offering open betas of Windows for many years.
The rules are stringent, however. Prospective OS X beta testers are obliged to sign a confidentiality agreement and install a Beta Access program, triggering access to restricted OS X updates. An additional Feedback tab is added to the top bar to allow members to report glitches and bugs back to Apple.
The Appleseed website that allows users to register also contains an extensive FAQ that confirms that this is a separate initiative from that which is available for developers.
Participants are strictly forbidden from blogging, tweeting, or posting information about the OS X beta software, or even discussing it with non-members, adding a wisp of freemasonry to the whole affair.
The Mac OS X beta builds are not the full version of OS X and unless you buy the full release of OS X when it becomes available, you'll need to wipe your Mac and restore it from a backup to the last version of OS X that you bought.
Though the rules are strict, this move does reflect a new sense of openness at Apple that we have not seen before. Last year, the company released OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks, the first upgrade available free of charge to end users.
A similar sense of openness appears to be flowing from Redmond too, with Microsoft recently having donated large parts of its .Net code to an open source foundation. µ