Understanding OS X Betas

With OS X Yosemite going public beta, I feel that it’s important that people understand what that entails. This happens almost every year but it seems worthy of a reminder.

Beta is the development phase where the product is not finished but ready to be tested. Operative term: NOT FINISHED. What does this mean to you?

  • There Will Be Bugs
  • Many apps will not work.
  • Things may be slow.
  • You may lose data.
  • Issues will be addressed on the developer’s schedule, not yours. Even until some time after Yosemite is released, apps may not be ready yet.

In short, if you use your machine for any type of important work, DO NOT INSTALL THE BETA. It’s not our, or Apple’s, fault or responsibility if you are unable to get anything done because you didn’t heed this advice. If you must install it, in the very least install it on another drive/partition or virtual machine (VMware, Parallels, etc.) so it doesn’t impact your main installation.

And remember the purpose of the beta is for the developer to test their product, not for you to get a sneak peek at what’s new. If you find a bug, report it to the developer. And I mean REPORT it. Do not instead:

  • Talk about the bug on some site that the developer will not see.
  • Review an app running on a beta OS or is in beta itself.
  • Tweet a complaint with few details (Twitter is horrible for bug reporting).
  • Stay quiet about it and assume the bug will be magically fixed.

If you really care about the bug getting fixed, then tell the developer directly, providing necessary details. If possible try and figure out if the bug is Apple’s or ours and email the appropriate party. In general, during the early beta stages, the bug is probably Apple’s. Near the end, it’s probably ours. We do want to fix things but not reporting them properly is counterproductive to that.

With everyone’s cooperation, hopefully the transition to Yosemite will be a smooth one. Ok, maybe not, but at least I tried.

Category: Business, OS X, Software One comment »

One Response to “Understanding OS X Betas”

  1. Cap'n Slipp

    Then there’s also the situation where Mavericks was unusable on your machine because of graphics card driver kernel panics, and Apple won’t do anything about it because your machine is out of warranty and they insist that is must be diagnosed as a hardware issue.

    And so you look at the Yosemite beta and you’re like “it’s late in its dev cycle. It takes 1-2 years to put these OS updates together; we’re at the 90-95% mark right now.  It’s basically done.”  And you notice the trend of odd releases (10.5 Leopard, 10.7 Lion, 10.9 Mavericks) being more experimental in architecture and more unstable, and the even release (10.6 Snow Leopard, 10.8 Mountain Lion, and 10.10 Yosemite) being architectural refinements of the previous release.  And then there’s that fancy-shmancy new software that only runs on 10.9+ because we live in the kind of world now.

    And so you say “yeah, okay, I’ll try Yosemite on a second partition.”  And everything works smoothly, much more smoothly than that upgrade to Mavericks you had to painfully back down to Mountain Lion out of.  And you throw caution into the wind — caution you’ve seen no tangible evidence of, just murmurs of the word “beta” — and upgrade before the final release.  The end.

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