Apple risks little by taking the public into its Yosemite confidence, even if features leak, as they inevitably will, the program's legal muzzling notwithstanding. While there may be some risk to the edition's reputation if people pan it or the one-million quota is never reached, and the latter becomes public, there is little direct financial risk. Like OS X Mavericks last year, Yosemite will be free for the taking by Mac owners.
Any harm to Mac sales by a Yosemite flop -- on the level of, say, Windows Vista -- would be found out in any case, so withholding the OS from customers until it ships would only delay by a short time an eventual fall-off. But the public relations benefit to Apple could end up being considerable if Yosemite gets a thumbs up from the hardcore customers who will bother with the beta. In fact, the decision could well be Machiavellian: Apple may expect a steady stream of leaks that will feed the maw of Apple websites and bloggers through the summer and into the fall.
Mac owners can sign up for the Yosemite beta program on Apple's website. An AppleID is required and the Mac must be running OS X Mavericks.
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