Yosemite will be available as a public beta, Apple’s first since OS X launched

Apple(s appl) plans to open a public beta on Thursday for OS X Yosemite, its new desktop operating system announced at WWDC. Interested Mac users can sign up for the OS X Beta Program on Apple’s site.

This is the first public beta for an unreleased version of OS X since 2000, when the first ever version of OS X needed beta testers — and those users had to pay $30 to take part. This OS X beta program will be free.

While versions of OS X Yosemite have been available to developers since June, Apple has chosen to wait to release the public beta to ensure the operating system has had most of the bugs worked out. The public beta will have fewer updates than Apple’s developer builds, which update regularly and often break services.

In April, Apple announced that it was going to open up its beta builds, and some non-developers were then able to download builds of Mavericks, the current version of OS X. In the past, Apple has also released beta versions of individual apps, such as Messages.

The final version of Yosemite will be released this fall, and will be free for all Macs that can run the operating system. The desktop operating system is going to feature a graphic redesign with a lot of translucency, tight integration with iOS devices, and a revamped Spotlight search tool.