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Care to test drive the newest release of the Macintosh operating system, ahead of its expected launch in the fall? Apple is opening up the beta for Mac OS X Yosemite starting Thursday to the first one million people who sign up.

The purpose of the beta of course is to provide Apple with feedback on any usability issues or errors you run across. So as with any beta software, it is important to retain the perspective that you're not likely to have a bug-free experience or even be able to check out all the features coming with the new OS.

Indeed, Apple has already said that beta users won't be able to access such promised Yosemite features such as the ability to make or receive your iPhone calls or text messages on your Mac, turn on your iPhone hotspot feature from your Mac, or "Handoff" the last thing you were doing on your iOS 8 device to your Mac and vice versa. A new iCloud Drive feature is also off-limits, while any Spotlight search suggestions are U.S.-based only. Don't expect all your Mac apps to run either.

For all these reasons, it's not a great idea to install Yosemite on your go-to home or business computer. If possible, substitute a spare secondary computer instead. Either way, make sure to back up all your data before installing the Yosemite beta.

You won't be compensated in any way for participating in the beta and there are conditions. The computer used to install Yosemite must run the current version of OS X, called Mavericks. (You can download it free if you don't already have it.)

Apple also asks that you don't install the pre-release software on any systems you don't directly control or that you share with others. You're not allowed to blog, post screen shots, tweet or publicly post information about your beta experience either, or demonstrate the software to folks who are not participating in the program.

You can sign up with your Apple ID credentials here. If you qualify you'll receive a redemption code that will let you download the software on your selected computer. You can report any issues to Apple with a built-in feedback app.

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow @edbaig on Twitter.

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