What is the macOS 12 Release Date for Beta and Official Versions?
When is the official macOS 12 release date? That's what millions around the world are wondering on the eve of WWDC21, where the new operating system for Mac desktop computers will be unveiled. Everyone's just guessing at the moment, but if we look at past releases and their timelines, we can get a pretty good fix on the question 'when will macOS 12 release?' - as developer betas, public betas, and the final official public release.
Predicting the macOS 12 Beta Release Date
The first developer beta is typically released right after the WWDC event, which means we could see the first developer beta around the second week of June. For past iterations, the dev betas have been fast and furious, usually lasting for around two weeks. At the end of that cycle, the first public beta is then released to users registered with the beta program. Let's take a closer look at the timeline from past major releases.
Big Sur is not the best version to compare macOS 12 to because of various reasons. For one, macOS 11 was very late being released to developers. In fact, Apple released Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to devs even before the public release of 11.0, which was highly unusual. However, the first beta of Big Sur 11.0 was released at WWDC20 in June, and we can reasonably expect the same for the first macOS 12 developer beta as well. What's confusing is that 11.0 never made it out of the gate, and all-new M1 devices were shipped with macOS 11.0.1 Big Sur.
If you step back one version and look at Catalina, the timeline was a little tighter. The first dev beta for 10.15 came on June 3, 2020, following which there were 9 more releases until the 11th Catalina 10.15 GM Seed (19A582a) was released on October 3, 2020. 4 days later, the official macOS Catalina 10.15.0 (19A583) production release was made available.
There's one major consideration here. If macOS 12 is going to be simply a refinement that builds on top of Big Sur's capabilities, we may see a beta release timeline similar to that of Catalina, which means a dev beta right after the conference, two weeks of dev testing, and then the public beta. If the cycle continues, we could see the final production release coming as early as September. Remember that Catalina brought a lot of major changes as well (that's when iTunes was deprecated and its functionality distributed across other apps.
On the other hand, if macOS 12 (Monterey, Mammoth, Skyline, ???) is a big update, the official production release may not happen in September or even October. As with the case of Big Sur, it might only happen in November 2021. We can't rule out that possibility, especially since there's an M2 chip reportedly in mass-production right now, according to sources in Taipei. If that silicon comes in the 2021 MacBook Pro models, as rumors seem to suggest, then Apple could have some big plans for macOS 12. It would have to be a whopper compared to releases like Catalina or even Big Sur.
To summarize, it's likely that the first developer beta of macOS 12 will come alongside the June 7 event, but the question of the first public release still remains.
Predicting the macOS 12 Release Date of the Official Production Version
Again, this will depend on whether or not macOS 12 is a major update or a refinement of Big Sur and an optimization to the M1 chip's capabilities. If macOS is going to run on devices with the new M2 chip, it may need to be more than a minor update to Big Sur.
The earliest we can hope to see a public release of macOS 12.0 is likely to be September, and that's overly optimistic at this point. A more likely estimate would be October or even November, and it all depends on how many drastic changes Apple has made to the new OS.
So, what we expect to see is a dev release in June followed by two weeks of intensive testing, the aggressive gathering of feedback, the elimination of major bugs, and the addition of security patches. After that, probably in late June or early July, we could see the first public beta. This will be available to anyone registered with the Apple Beta Software Program. This whole process from the first developer beta release to the last public beta release usually takes anywhere from 3 to 5 months, which is how we arrive at the September to November 2021 estimate for the production release to new devices and updates for existing Mac users.
Summary of macOS 12 Release Timeline (Expected)
Putting it all together, we're looking at an immediate release of the first dev beta in June, the first public beta around July, and a final release between September and November. If you're a developer, you'll see the new features as early as the week of WWDC21. If you're a signed-up public beta tester and have registered your device, your turn will come in July 2021. Everyone else will need to wait until the final release.
A word of warning is in order here. If you're planning on running the macOS 12 beta (any version) on your Mac, make sure it's not your primary 'mission-critical' computer. The last thing you want is your office-provided Mac to suddenly become unusable because of a glitch in the OS. You can always reinstall an older version like Big Sur or Catalina, but it's not worth the trouble.
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