First Impressions of OS X 10.9 Mavericks

OS X 10.9 Mavericks has just been released by Apple. Here are my initial impressions.

Firstly, can I say wow. If ever a single word summed up an OS, wow sums up Mavericks.

No Hardware Increase

The best news is that if your Mac can run OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, it can run Mavericks. Apple hasn’t increased the system requirements. The last time this happened was in 2002 when Mac OS X 10.2 Jaguar was released running on the same hardware as Mac OS X 10.1 Puma.

No Price Increase

The second best piece of news is that Apple are offering it for free. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard was the last high priced version of OS X back in 2007. Since then, the price has dropped, but I doubt anyone expected Apple to offer the latest version totally free.

Installation

Installation is generally simple. You download it from the App Store, and it upgrades over your existing Snow Leopard, Lion, or Mountain Lion installation.

It is possible to do a clean install, which I chose to do. I have had my MacBook since Leopard and upgraded to every version after that, so felt it needed a fresh install to clean out rogue and unneeded files and apps.

The process for creating a bootable working USB flash drive is not as straightforward as with Mountain Lion. I followed instructions from OS XDaily.

Installation was as straightforward as ever. Set it off and let it do its thing until prompted to input your details.

How Does It Run?

I am running it on a 2 GHz Core 2 Duo Early 2009 MacBook with 4 GB RAM and nVidia GeForce 9400M graphics chipset with 256 MB video memory. This is one of the earliest Macs to support Mountain Lion, so I wasn’t holding out much hope my Mac would see the next version, but by not increasing hardware requirements, mine thankfully can run it.

It really is fantastically smooth. OS X 10.9 Mavericks attempts to bring back the speed of OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard with the features of 10.8 Mountain Lion. First impressions of Mavericks: They have achieved it. It is a brilliantly fast OS without sacrificing features.

Compatibilty

As you can see from the above screenshot after installing Mavericks, I reinstalled the applications I used in Mountain Lion.

The list is quite large: Firefox 24.0, Tomato Torrent 1.5.1, OpenOffice 4.0.1, Bean 3.2.5 (which I wrote this in), TextWrangler 4.5.3, GIMP 2.8.4, SeaShore 0.5.1, Burn 2.5.1, Audacity 2.0.4, iMovie HD 6.0.3, VLC 2.1.0, HandBrake 0.9.9 (x86_64), iTools 1108, MacTracker 7.1.5, TinyUmbrella 7.02, VirtualBox 4.2.18, ChickenOfTheVNC 2.0b4, and TeamViewer 8.0.20942.

All of these opened without any problems, and apart from a couple of them asking for a Java update, everything seems fine.

New Features

There are a lot of new features, which I haven’t had a chance to look in to fully so here is a summary.

  • Apple have taken the same flat and simple look of iOS 7 and built it into Mavericks. The Calendar features a white background with a simplistic look.
  • Notification Centre has been enhanced to include more information.
  • Finder tabs have been added, just like browser tabs. Now you can keep your desktop tidy.
  • iBooks and Maps are new apps in Mavericks taking your mobile reading library and navigation system from iOS to the desktop.
  • Safari has been updated, offering even more speed.
  • iCloud Keychain offers online password management across approved devices.
  • Improved Multiple Display support, with the ability to have a dock on each screen and either span an app across all displays or using each one on a separate screen.

One of the key new features is its smart power management technology. It has the ability to take processing power and RAM from backgrounded apps and push that to active apps giving more power to what you need.

Conclusion

I am very impressed with Mavericks in the short time I have been using it. Yet another amazing OS from Apple – and even better for being free.


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2 thoughts on “First Impressions of OS X 10.9 Mavericks

  1. Nice review. I was one of the first to grab Mavericks as soon as it showed up in the app store, at about 3 yesterday. I have to say it feels slower than the Lion that I upgraded from, and keeps significantly more ram wired, even with nothing running. This is a late ’11 MBP with 4gb and a 2.2 i7x4.

    I was also looking forward to trying enhanced dictation, which so far has barely gotten through a sentence without errors. Siri on iOS works great with my voice, I was rather surprised how poorly dictation does.

    Overall a decent update, but I’m disappointed. Hopefully just new adoption pains, but I’m very glad it was free.

  2. On my Macbook Pro 2.26 Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo with 8 GB RAM and a Geforce 9400M 256 MB, it works wonderfully and every app I have runs as I expect them to do. It is zippier, faster, and the colors are much brighter than they were under Mountain Lion. I would say it is even faster than my original Leopard.

    I downloaded the Enhanced Dictation myself, and found it was relatively good. I never used it in Mountain Lion myself outside of once, and found it to be somewhat a cheesy add on. I have found it to be quite good in this rendition, making relatively few mistakes and really none given my own accent and enunciation sloppiness. Not sure I will really use it all that much though to be honest. Call me a luddite but typing myself seems to be my speed.

    The new upgraded apps launch much faster, sometimes as little as a single bounce. The new iWork apps are cleaner and load quickly. Office still takes a while to load and I put the resonsibility of that issue squarely in Microsoft’s hands.

    I have enjoyed a little longer battery life (about 20-30 minutes when browsing the web) but given I only have 64% of the capacity available it wasn’t all that much savings. I have run across Safari’s Power Save on a few Flash-enabled sites, which is both a blessing and a curse. There are some sites I like Flash on and enabling it is now one extra step.

    On my mid 2007 iMac with 8 GB RAM, I can say just about the same things I said about my Macbook Pro. That was actually surprising to me, given it is at the bottom of the compatibility list. I expected it to strain and such but it is not the case at all.

    So my hat is off to Apple for this release. Sure, two of my Mac models have not been able to move forward from Leopard (damn that PowerPC switch), but for the other two, I am pleased.