Apple opens OS X betas to the public

Big news today from Apple: the company is opening its OS X Beta Seed Program to its customers. In the past, you needed to be a developer to access beta builds of OS X, but as of OS X 10.9.3, released earlier today, customers can also apply for access.

“Join the OS X Beta Seed Program and help make OS X even better. Install the latest pre-release software, try it out, and submit your feedback,” reads Apple’s OS X Mavericks Beta page.

As a side note, you should always be careful when installing beta software. It’s beta because it’s still being tested, so don’t put it on any production machine.

  • Dylan Seeger

    Wow, that’s unexpected! Hopefully only people who know what they’re doing install these betas, though.

    • No chance. Every asshat and his dog will join this program, install the beta software and then royally bitch all over the internet about how “MY APPS DON’T WORK!” and blame the developer of the apps.

      This is going to be a complete nightmare for support personnel everywhere.

      • Have you heard anything about which seeds will be offered to the public, Shawn?

        • The email I got from Apple says it’s for “the OS X Beta Seed Program for OS X Mavericks Update 10.9.3.” No indication it goes beyond that.

          • At this point, that’s probably not a problem. Maybe they’re going to make people re-apply once the seeds reach “stable” for each release?

            Edit: I should say I have no idea if the current seed is “stable,” only that there have been previous seeds reported and it ought to be getting there at least…

      • This already happens to some extent.

        This could have the benefit of a greater amount of constructive feedback, as well.

        Microsoft has done similar things with pre-release availability of Windows 7 and 8. (Not exactly the same, I concede). In the case of Windows 7, it helped get them over the bad reputation of Vista.

  • 11thIndian

    Really interesting move. I wonder what could be motivating this? Are that many regular users really crying out to run OSX betas since, as Jim notes, no sane person would want to be running them on your main machine.

    I wonder if this will carry thru to the 10.10 beta to likely to be released in just over a month. Perhaps the UI changes are substantial enough that they want as many users as possible to jump on early and provide feedback, so that when it launches properly in the Fall- it will be that much more stable. Just a though.

    • I’ve always felt that Apple’s pool of testers was never large enough. Mostly developers who test “their software” against the builds and not enough users putting their “systems” through its paces. Even worse was the feeling that majors developers never seemed to participate in the beta trials which explained why they were always late in providing updates after new releases.

    • There’s a whole range of things this could mean. This isn’t the first seed of 10.9.3, so it’s entirely possible that this doesn’t even apply to 10.9.4. Developers may get a few seeds of 10.9.4 before “the public” does.

      • 11thIndian

        Well, they just started this program today, so they have to start somewhere, regardless of where they are in the betas for a particular release.

        But I don’t see them starting this with 10.9.3 and then stopping again with 10.9.4. That wouldn’t make any sense.

        As someone else mentioned, they were probably just tired of people signing up for developer accounts that weren’t developers. Let someone install it if they want. In the grand scope it will be a very small percentage of regular Mac users. And no one’s grandmother is going to accidentally get this installed on their machine. It’s a distinct “opt in” process.

        • You misunderstood me. 🙂 I’m not saying they won’t do this for 10.9.4, I’m just saying that if 10.9.4 ends up having ten seeds, the general public might not get the first four.

          This could be limited to “almost ready, not quite” rather than “any old thing we throw over the fence.” 🙂

  • David Malcolm Puranen

    My guess is they got sick of non developers signing up as developers and wanted to acknowledge that users who are savvy but aren’t developers exist.

  • tbolt

    This makes nerds happy.

  • Prof. Peabody

    I really can’t see why this isn’t just a flat out bad idea all round. Idiots using beta software, ruining their macs, increased problems for genius bar employees, and most obviously …

    … huge and constant leaks of any new features.

    • betas aint secret.

    • Ben Klaiber

      Apple thrives on it’s enthusiast base. These are the same people who have always installed the newest developer releases hours after each WWDC, regardless of not being developers. They enjoy the OS, they love delving into the details and usually report many improvements the mainstream overlooks.

      Meanwhile, their enthusiasm is infectious. The constant talking about the new release to others helps build the hype and the excitement.

      Are there a handful of idiots who gripe about bugs in a beta? Sure. Are they vastly outnumbered by those who accept the growing pains? Absolutely.

      My non-techie ex had me keep OS X DP3 on her iMac, despite it being extremely raw around the edges, because she loved it over MacOS 9.

      After I installed 10.9, I couldn’t stand going back, regardless of the occasional instability. The new features were just too valuable to my workflow.

      On the other side, I normally delete any Windows beta within moments of checking it out. Hardly anything feels like an improvement I can’t live without.

      • gjgustav

        “Are there a handful of idiots who gripe about bugs in a beta? Sure. Are they vastly outnumbered by those who accept the growing pains? Absolutely.”

        Do you have any evidence of that? I find it hard to believe considering the gripes about beta software in forums (and contacting my company’s tech support) even when Apple didn’t offer a public beta.

  • Fanny_Windstorm

    Mavericks releases have been like beta releases anyway. I never got the impression they’d been tested by anybody that uses a computer.

    • gjgustav

      I found the opposite. The only large problems I’ve heard was with gmail users.

    • James Hughes

      I tested every Mavericks release and I actually used it on a separate partition for actual work. Aside from Mail problems and a few difficulties here and there, it was fairly stable from the get go. There are many many people who test and now there will be more and that’s great. But your impression was and is wrong.

      • Fanny_Windstorm

        I stopped making notes a long time ago & some things are better now but, in terms of the first release, I shouldn’t have found the following problems–I am not an intense user (also included “enhancements” that suck) If the problems weren’t found before the system became the only available osx, the system wasn’t tested or they said, “Screw it, we promised it would be ready so turn it loose.” Maybe I am wrong & they are employing ex-Space Shuttle managers.


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