OS X Mavericks: What a modern OS upgrade should feel like

OS X Mavericks: What a modern OS upgrade should feel like

Summary: Upgrading to OS X Mavericks is exactly how upgrading a modern operating system should feel like. It gets done with the minimal of fuss and fanfare, and then the operating system steps aside and lets the user get back to work.


Yesterday Apple unleashed the latest incarnation of OS X into the Mac ecosystem. Called OS X Mavericks, the new operating system brings with it a plethora of new features, from memory compression to an integrated maps app, all for the unbeatable price of $0.

Here at the PC Doc HQ there are a number of Macs who busily spend their days pulling their weight and earning their keep. They range from the diminutive Mac mini to the high end MacBook Pro. These aren't test systems or devices that we use occasionally, but work systems, with a broad assortment of attached hardware and installed software. But despite the fact that these are working systems, I decided to pull the trigger on downloading and installing the OS X new update.

Why not live a little?

However, since discretion is the better part of valor, I made sure that my system backups were in order. Since I keep both local backups made using Time Machine and several different types of off-site backup, I knew that all my settings and data would be backed up, but it still doesn't harm to check before starting the install process.

OS X Mavericks install screen

I needn't have worried, as the install was simplicity itself. I clicked on a button to download the 5.27 gigabytes that made up the Mavericks update, and then waited for that to come in. Once that was in, it was a matter of a couple of clicks to get the install process rolling, after which it was hands-off for about 25 minutes while the installer did its thing. Then came a reboot, and then after setting up the new iCloud keychain feature and binding they system to the relevant iCloud account, the install process was over.

Done. Finished.

I'd show you the steps involved but there really isn't anything to show. It's the quickest, smoothest, most hassle-free installation of a desktop system that I have ever carried out on a working machine. When the Macs booted back up, apart from two new icons in the Dock – Maps and iBooks – the systems looked just like they did before I carried out the install.

This is a good thing.

I appreciated not having to spend time relearning the basics because things had been arbitrarily moved, and I wasn't left scratching my head wondering where something that I previously relied on had gone. And there was no hair-tearing over drivers, or fooling around with settings.

It. Just. Worked.

Even all the apps I had running before starting the update were reopened, including a document I had in Word and all the tabs I had loaded in the browser.

This is exactly how upgrading a modern operating system should feel like. It gets done with the minimal of fuss and fanfare, and then the operating system steps aside and lets the user get back to work.

This is not to say that OS X Mavericks is just a rebadged version of OS X Mountain Lion. It isn't. The operating system feels faster and more fluid than previous incarnations of OS X. My tricked-out late-2012 15-inch Retina display MacBook Pro feels significantly faster than it did the day I took it out of the box, and that's with a whole bunch of applications such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud installed on it. Heavy applications such as Adobe Photoshop CC or After Effects CC feel lighter, and switching between then is strikingly quicker and much smoother.

Not only that but after installing OS X Mavericks I have more free disk space, more free RAM, and an immediate and marked improvement on battery life.

I've carried out hundreds, perhaps thousands of operating system installations, and I don't expect much in the way of a performance bump. This is different. There's a familiarity to the system, so I know it's my machine, but the speed difference is substantial. Rather than an operating system upgrade, it feels like I've taken my Time Machine backup and loaded it onto a new MacBook Pro. 

All this for $0.

I would have happily paid $29 for this. Or even $59. In fact, I've spent far more than that on operating system upgrades – specifically, Microsoft operating system upgrades – over the years and got far less in return.

This is exactly how upgrading a modern operating system should feel like. 

See also:

Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Software

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  • Just don't use Parallels 8

    It doesn't like running on a second monitor and disconnecting. VM disappears completely and requires you suspend and start the machine again to have it appear.
    Stuart Becktell
    • Good Advice but Parallels itself recommends version 9 for Mavericks

      Parallels ver 9 (with latest update for Mavericks) works well on my iMac Mavericks based system.
      • I'll have to buy Parallels 9

        A bit reluctantly because this company seems to be in the upgrade business.
        • Like Parallels is the only company to do that sort of thing

          How else do wall street shareholders and other lazyleeches see a return on their investment? Altruism?!
          • Somebody is mad at the world?

            I don't think he suggested they were the only ones.
        • OS X is free now

          OS X upgrades are free now...
        • Check out Oracle's VirtualBox VM

          Open-source VirtualBox VM manager is FREE and v4.3 works fine under Mavericks. Nice!
      • Parallels

        I'm getting annoyed by Parallels' de facto subscription model of annual updates at $50/pop. They begrudgingly offer nominal support for the newest OS for a version that I paid $50 for last year. Plus they took their remote access app, which used to be $5, and made it an $80 annual subscription. All while Apple is moving to an annual free upgrade cycle. Sure, Parallels can't give away software, but they can make me feel a little better as a repeat customer by standing by their product for more than a year or at least offering better upgrade pricing.
        • Check out Oracle's VirtualBox VM

          Open-source VirtualBox VM manager is FREE and v4.3 works fine under Mavericks. Nice!
    • Parallels V9 seems fine

      I'm using Parallels 9 and it seems to be working fine with multiple monitors.
    • Interesting.. Running Parallels 8, no problems

      Installed Mavericks yesterday and have been using Parallels 8 with both a Windows 7 Boot camp installation and a Vista VM.
      Have three screens ( iMac and two others ) and have had no issues thus far apart from mouse positioning being slightly off when you first drag a Windows application to one of the other screens but this corrects itself when you drag the application a second time.
    • Check out Oracle's VirtualBox VM

      Open-source VirtualBox VM manager is FREE and v4.3 works fine under Mavericks. Nice!
  • The Best Mac OS X since 10.6.8

    Apple did well here. Solid upgrade went flawless on my MacBook Air. Price point is a good move by Apple. Good timing going with a free OS while Microsoft still struggles with a PR campaign on product consumers do not like with Windows 8.
    • Bott's Law Invoked

      And on the second post. Nicely done.
      Hallowed are the Ori
      • Maybe

        but replace Mavericks upgrade with Windows 8.1 upgrade and you have my experience on all of our machines - apart from the download was only 3.5GB, not over 5GB.

        That said, I've updated my work's iMac to Mavericks and that went just as smoothly as the Windows one - although the Apple keyboard seems to be causing some problems. I came in this morning to hear the clicking sound of auto-repeat coming out of the speakers. Pressing Esc stopped it, but after I signed in, it started again. I then did a reboot and it started again. I've now unplugged and replugged the keyboard and it seems to be working... Fingers crossed.

        My home Macs are another problem though, none of them are compatible with Mavericks...
        • Better than Windows 8.1 update!

          My experience of updating of a 2 month old Windows 8 convertible was terrible!

          Stuck at 79% when 'finishing off a few things', after rebooting it said there was a problem so was restoring the previous OS. Ended up in a reboot loop while it tried to restore! After running a repair from an external flash drive I managed to get back to Windows 8.

          After cleaning up the mess I tried again. This worked fine but I soon found many items were not working, including the Synaptics touchpad driver! Hours of time spent getting it sorted so not as smooth as expected. Whereas my old iMac updated in less time and everything worked fine, as did my brothers MacBook Pro and my brother-in-laws machine.

          I have never had a good Windows update experience over the years but always had a good Mac experience. If the Windows 8.1 worked well for some, lucky you!
          • Apple Makes the Whole Widget remeber?

            Before condemning Windows 8.1 update think about the hardware variables MS has to deal with opposed to Apple who famously "makes the entire widget".
            I've update 3 Windows PCs, two home brew and one Dell laptop (designed for Win 7) only my home brew Crossfire Gaming PC had the issue you described. It boiled down to a driver issue.
            Apple has all the various hardware combinations to test against vs the millions of combinations afforded by the Windows ecosystem.
            Mark Rogalski
          • Not quit true

            Everything hanging off my mac is not apple hardware. Even the video card, hd and memory have been swapped out with non apple parts and the audio on my machine is an external FireWire box made by someone else. The only thing extra that ms has to contend with is motherboards, which is nontrivial, but hardly 'the whole widget'.
            Alec Slate
          • Did my Windows 8.1 update last week.

            Went flawlessly. I know 2 others who I asked if they did their8.1 update, and yes, smooth as silk there as well.

            You situation seems to be unfortunate and rare.
    • All of their os upgrades should have been free

      Apple made their money on the overpriced hardware they sold you.