With the arrival of OS X Yosemite, or OS X 10.10, on October 16th, tens of millions of Mac users were able to join all those beta testers in downloading the official, final release. This is the first time, since the release of the original Mac OS X Public Beta in 2000, that Mac users had a crack at trying out an unfinished OS. Well, maybe not quite, since the release version that arrived the following March was, according to Steve Jobs, intended for power users and early adopters. It was still beta quality software.
In those days, though, beta testers had to pay for the privilege, to the tune of $29.95. At least you got credit towards the release version. These days, Apple gives away OS X, and as part of a new policy of relative openness, a beta program was set up for up to one million Mac users who merely signed up and accepted the user agreement. However, it doesn’t appear that Apple ever enforced that cap, since a figure of more than a million users was cited at last week’s media event, which also included those iPad and Mac refreshes.
In theory, allowing loads of customers to beta test OS X should result in a more reliable release, assuming Apple received plenty of feedback about problems. In passing, I see some lingering issues, one possibly significant, another mostly an irritant, which survived the beta process but wasn’t fixed. But I’ll get to that shortly.