Apple may release a public beta for OS X Yosemite as early as next week, according to an online report Monday.
Citing "sources briefed on the plans," 9to5Mac asserted that Apple plans to ship the public beta of Yosemite -- prosaically named OS X 10.10 -- later this month. The last day of July is a week from Thursday.
At the company's annual developers conference last month, Apple said the public would be allowed to try out early versions of the Yosemite operating system, the first time since 2000 that the company has let large numbers of outsiders get an early look at an upcoming Mac operating system.
Apple did not disclose a release date for the beta, saying then only that it would be "available for you to install soon."
Because Apple has not offered a broad beta in 14 years, there are no past practices to use as a guide for predicting a ship date.
But some doubt that the public beta will appear as soon as 9to5Mac claimed.
"It's not even remotely close to being ready," said a commenter on the 9to5Mac story, who implied that the latest developer preview was still shaky.
Apple released the fourth Yosemite developer preview on Monday. That update, and the three prior were available only to registered developers, who pay $99 annually for access to pre-release Apple software for the Mac, including OS X, so they can begin crafting or modifying their own applications.
Apple has also declined to set a launch date for the final, polished version of Yosemite.
If Apple uses the same timetable as last year, it will ship Yosemite on Oct. 15 or Oct. 22.
In 2013, Apple shipped Mavericks on Oct. 23, 19 weeks and 2 days after unveiling it at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). That same length of time this year would put Yosemite's release on Oct. 15, a week earlier because WWDC 2014 had a seven-day jump on 2013's confab. However, by extending the timeline another week and marking Oct. 22 as Yosemite's coming out, Apple would retain the same spot in the month as last year.
Apple has a habit of launching its OS X upgrades on Wednesday, a pattern it used in the last three years.
While the timetable remains uncertain, the price is not: Like last year's Mavericks, OS X Yosemite will be available free of charge to all customers with eligible Macs.
OS X 10.10 will run on iMacs from the mid-2007 model on; on 13-in. MacBooks from late 2008 (aluminum case) and early 2009 (plastic case) forward; MacBook Pro notebooks from mid- and late-2007 and on; MacBook Air ultra-light laptops from late 2008 and later; Mac Mini desktops from early 2009 and after; and the much beefier Mac Pro desktops from early 2008 and forward.
Mac owners who want to try the public beta must have already upgraded to OS X Mavericks. Registration for the beta remains open.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at Twitter @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.