Before any hardware or software solution hits the market, there is what's known as the "beta test." This is when a nearly completed version of the product is given — typically to developers and special testers — to use and report any potential bugs or issues before it is released to a wider audience.
Every company does it. For Apple, the beta period on the latest operating system is typically a few months and it is only available to a select group of developers or those that know how to get the special code needed to download the early versions. For example, OS X 10.9, better known as Mavericks, was announced on June 10, 2013 at the Worldwide Developers Conference and put into beta. It was eventually released on October 22 of that year.
However, quietly this week, Apple made a change to its beta program, revealing that it is opening up the system to the public for the first time since 2000. Known as the "OS X Beta Seed Program," it only requires an Apple ID — no fees or other eligibility requirements — and grants individuals early access to OS X 10.9.3, an upcoming update to OS X Mavericks.
As with all things Apple, there is a lengthy terms-and-conditions document that outlines a non-disclosure clause. This prohibits individuals from publishing any information or posting screenshots of the new operating system.
This will be a great way for companies to start vetting the new software ahead of a Mac integration. This will make it easier for companies to get behind the latest technologies.