Apple has always been very secretive about their products; almost never releasing any information until right before the launch of a product. But in a surprising move, Apple has launched the OS X Beta Seed Program which allows anyone with an Apple ID to download and install a beta version of OS X 10.9.3 which is the next update coming to OS X Mavericks.
The last time Apple made a beta version of OS X available to the public was more than a decade ago in 2000 when it made an early edition of what would become OS X 10.0, also known as Cheetah, available for $29.95. Aside from then and until now only developers who pay a $99 annual fee could receive unreleased copies of OS X.
To sign up for the OS X Beta Seed Program, users just to log in using their Apple ID and agree to a confidentiality agreement that disallows participants from sharing any information related to the beta. The agreement specifically states, “You agree that you will not disclose, publish, or otherwise disseminate any Confidential Information to anyone other than individuals who are enrolled in the same individual seed as you, or as otherwise expressly permitted or agreed to in writing by Apple.”
In a FAQ the company has published they’ve also reiterated the details of the confidentiality agreement albeit in easily understandable terms. “Don’t blog, post screen shots, tweet or publicly post information about the pre-release Apple software, and don’t discuss the pre-release Apple software with or demonstrate it to others who are not in the OS X Beta Seed Program.”
Once signed up, users will be able to download a Beta Access Utility that modifies the Mac App Store Updates section of their Mac that will enable them to download the beta version of the OS and any other software makes available for testing although Apple has not made any announcements regarding future beta software availability.
Apple recommends that users backup their computer before installing the beta software in case the user wishes to roll back to a previous released version of OS X. Users will also be able to update to the final version of the beta software they’re testing once it becomes available via Software Update. For feedback, Apple has included a Feedback Assistant which can be found on the Dock once the pre-release software is installed.