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Following the announcement of major updates to both OS X and iOS, Apple has begun seeding versions of the new operating systems beyond its own engineers and third-party developers. Beginning this week, several sources say, Apple has begun seeding the initial preview of OS X Mavericks to Genius Bar and on-floor Apple Retail employees.

These select employees received the following message:

You are invited to participate in the pre-release OS X Mavericks seed program. Participation, including submitting feedback, is completely voluntary and not an expectation of your job. If you accept, we will provide you with a pre-release version of OS X Mavericks to install and use. You will get to preview all of the exciting new features like iBooks, Maps, Calendar, Safari, iCloud Keychain, Multiple Displays, Notifications, Finder Tabs, Tags, and much more! You should use OS X Mavericks only your personal computer and on your personal time. Apple will provide you with ways to submit feedback on your experiences with OS X Mavericks, should you choose to do so. Apple also asks that you use future builds of OS X Mavericks as they are made available. The responses from prior seed programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you to everyone who participated!

This program is designed in order to gauge feedback in a more controlled environment about the major Mac OS update. Additionally, putting OS X Mavericks in the hands of Retail employees will allow the employees to become intimately familiar with the system ahead of the fall launch. Apple initiated a similar program approximately one month before OS X Mountain Lion shipped last summer.

In addition to Retail employees, we understand that Apple has already seeded OS X Mavericks to its outside AppleSeed testing group. This seeding to AppleSeed is fairly early in comparison to initial OS X Mountain Lion and OS X Lion seeds in previous years. We also understand that Apple is preparing initial betas of OS X 10.8.5, a bug fix update for Mountain Lion, but a release time-frame for the betas is currently unclear.

Notably, on the iOS 7 end, multiple sources say that Apple is working to expand testing of the next-generation iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system beyond developers. Sources say that Apple is holding on campus sessions with Cupertino locals to gauge feedback on the radical design and interface changes in iOS. Apple has conducted similar programs in the past for specific, major software features, but rarely holds such previews for whole major operating system releases. It is unclear how these people have been picked, but it is probable that they are family members of Apple employees, according to two people.

Full Mavericks invitation to Apple Retail employees:

mavseed