Apple's Mac OS X Yosemite available this fall

While developers get a crack at the latest operating system early, consumers have to wait several months or sign up for a beta version.

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Apple's new Mac OS X. Tim Stevens/CNET

Apple will officially release its updated operating system Yosemite to the public this fall, but enthusiasts who don't want to wait can sign up for a test version, the company announced Monday.

While developers get access to the new OS X 10.10 software on the same day as its unveiling, consumers won't see its release until later this year, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, said at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.

He also said Apple will open up access to its beta, or the test version, of Yosemite to consumers for the first time. Non-developers can sign up for the public beta program online.

Check out CNET's first take on Apple Mac OS X 10.10. The company's newly redesigned software aims to link the PC operating system with Apple's mobile system through syncing.

Apple's Mac business might not be as big -- or as sexy -- as its mobile business, but it remains an important focus for Apple. The company last year introduced its powerful Mac Pro computer, and it has continued to add Retina Displays to its various MacBooks.

After years of giving OS X cat-related names (Leopard, Lion, Mountain Lion), Apple last year shifted to California-themed titles for future versions of the operating system. The first in that new line was 2013's OS X 10.9, aka Mavericks, which Apple gave away for free. Named after the world-famous surfing competition held near Half Moon Bay, Calif., Mavericks featured improved battery life, many new applications, better power management, tabs in Finder, and the ability to add tags to file names so they're more searchable.

Although it's the first time Apple has opened a public beta program at a launch of an OS, the company opened up access to its OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks in April.

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