Apple has offered some of its retail employees early access to OS X Mavericks. 9to5Mac reported that Genius Bar and floor staff at the company's chain of Apple Stores have been invited to install, test, and report on their experiences with Mavericks.
Apple offered early access to Mountain Lion last year, but it did so just a month before it was released. OS X Mavericks isn't expected until later this year—in the fall—meaning that Apple is reaching out to its retail employees for help in testing the OS much earlier in the process.
And this is a great thing. It not only sends the message to retail employees that they are valued for more than their ability to sell iPhones and iMacs, it allows those employees who participate to become very familiar with the OS long before it hits the Mac App Store.
By and large, the employees that take advantage of the voluntary program are going to be Apple's more enthusiastic employees, as well as its more technically adept. These employees are great resources for Apple, and we are pleased to see the company do the practical thing and tap such a resource.
Apple's secrecy is a powerful marketing tool, and considering how the company's competitors look at Apple as their unpaid R&D department, secrecy is also an important competitive weapon.
All secrecy isn't created equal, however, and considering the fact that hundreds of thousands of developers can access early builds of iOS and OS X, once they hit that stage secrecy is no longer a consideration.
This is also good for us, the users. Having a broader pool of testers banging on Mavericks will translate into a better experience when Apple's customers when it does ship. We hope that iOS gets a similar treatment for all of these same reasons.