For the first time in over a decade, Apple will make a beta version of annual upgrade to its desktop software available to the public to download ahead of the final product launch.

The reason Apple is taking this step in order to get feedback from users before releasing the final version of Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) later this year.

Apple released the Developer Preview of the new software just after its annual developer conference at the beginning of June, launching updates to this every couple of weeks.

Apple will have been keen to make sure the public beta was polished enough for the general public to use it, but it will be lacking some features which will be available in the final version.

One of the main features missing will be Continuity, a feature will see Apple's desktop and mobile iOS software move closer together, allowing you make and take phone calls on direct from your desktop. Continuity will require the launch of iOS 8 which isn't going to happen until later this year.

You will however get new features like an update notification center, design hints from iOS 7 and a new translucent design language.

If you want to try it out before its final release in autumn, here's how:

How to I sign up?

Simple, just go to the website here, enter your Apple ID and password and you will be signed-up for the new program.

When will I be able to download?

Apple has announced that the public beta will be available to download from Thursday. Apple is liekly to stagger the roll out so as not to flood its servers. People who have signed up for the beta will get an email with a link to download the software.

System requirements

Not all Apple devices will receive the software update, though if you've bought your device in the last five years then it will most likely support it.

The Yosemite developer preview system requirements are iMac (mid-2007 onwards), MacBook Air (late 2008 onwards), MacBook (late 2008 Aluminium or early 2009 onwards), Mac Mini (early 2009 onwards), MacBook Pro (mid/ late 2007 onwards), Mac Pro (early 2008 onwards), Xserve (early 2009 onwards).

Does it cost money?

No, just like the final version will be later in the year, the Yosemite beta is free.