Apple late Thursday released a final version of OS X Mavericks to developers, hinting that the upgrade will go public during the week of Oct. 21.
"Download OS X Mavericks GM seed and Xcode 5.0.1 GM seed, now available on the Mac Dev Center," a message sent to developers read.
The build was labeled GM for "gold master," a tag some developers use for software that has been completed and is ready to send to duplicators and distributors. Microsoft's analogous status is "release to manufacturing," or RTM.
In Apple's case, OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, will not need to be burned onto DVDs, packaged in boxes and shipped to retail stores because it will be available only as a download from the Mac App Store, as have the last two OS upgrades.
Apple has not yet nailed down a price for Mavericks or pinned its release date to something more specific than "this fall." But the Oct. 3 debut of the Mavericks GM signals that customers will be able to purchase the upgrade in just over two weeks.
In 2011, Apple released the GM of OS X Lion on July 2 and shipped the final on July 20, a span of 18 days. A year later, Mountain Lion reached GM on July 9 and hit the Mac App Store on July 25, or 16 days later.
Sixteen and 18 days from Oct. 3 would be Oct. 19 and Oct. 21, respectively.
However, Apple has a habit of launching its OS X upgrades on Wednesday, a pattern it used in the last two iterations. If it stuck to that day of the week, it would probably debut Mavericks on Oct. 23.
Coincidentally or not, that's around the same time -- again going by Apple past practice -- that the Cupertino, Calif., company may introduce refreshed iPads.
Apple first unveiled Mavericks in June at its Worldwide Developers Conference, where it highlighted a handful of new features and tools, including Finder tabs -- for collecting several file manager windows into one view -- file tagging and improved support for multiple monitors. Mavericks will also include OS X versions of the iOS Maps and iBooks apps, and a slew of app, memory and disk management features that the company claimed will result in longer notebook battery life and better performance on all Macs.
Pricing remains a mystery, but it's unlikely that Apple will charge more than the $19.99 it asked customers to pay last year for OS X Mountain Lion.
OS X Mavericks' GM weighs in at more than 5GB, a size that will prevent customers with dial-up connections from grabbing it, and will make it difficult for those whose Internet providers aggressively meter their bandwidth. In previous years, Apple has said customers can bring their Mac notebooks to any Apple retail store and use the free Wi-Fi network there to download upgrades.
Computerworld's first-take review of OS X Mavericks noted that while its enhancements and additions did not trumpet "a major strategic shift in Apple's desktop/laptop OS," it has been refined and brought even more in line with iOS 7, which debuted two weeks ago.
This article, Apple seeds 'gold master' of OS X Mavericks to devs, was originally published at Computerworld.com.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.