My pastor loves free stuff. Free food, t-shirts, movie tickets, you name it. He happens also to be an iMac owner (after much poking and prodding). I may not be as gung-ho about it, but I certainly find it hard to pass up a good deal and and free, well, is free. So I went ahead and installed the latest version of OS X (10.9) called “Mavericks.” Question of naming conventions aside, I was able to simply use the App Store to download and install it right onto my desktop and laptop.

Whoops, scratch that. Simple to download, yes. But the install wouldn’t happen until I quit the installer and opened it again. Why? Not sure. But then it installed pretty easily. Do I need to remind you to back up your files before doing any of this? Remember what happened last time you tried to do this? ’Nuff said.

So yeah. Installed. How is it? Well, unspectacular for the most part. Don’t get me wrong. That’s a good thing. Better than spectacularly bad. It behaves very much like Mountain Lion in most respects, with a couple of exceptions. After a week or so of regular use, I have experienced two changes – one good, one annoying.

Tabbed Finder Windows. Cool. You don’t have to have a dozen windows plastered all over your screen. CMD-T and open a new tab in the same window. Navigate to another directory, click between tabs, move between tabs, copy between tabs. Nice. I also notice that you can sort in open and save dialogs, also pretty cool. Now you can more easily find stuff in those instances.

The Eternal Unread. No, not undead, unread. My GMail account in my Mail app now permanently shows over 50 unread messages. But they aren’t there. Feels like I am being haunted by SPAM from emails past. Not super critical, but boy, it does get quite annoying. Oddly enough, this problem only shows on my desktop, not on my laptop where I have the same accounts setup. Apple claims they made changes to adapt to Google’s new way of handling mail, but obviously the two are not simpatico at the moment. It’s the biggest complaint I’ve heard so far, so I am hoping it will be addressed (unintended pun there) shortly.

Apple is touting both improved memory handling and battery life under Mavericks. I don’t care about battery life on my desktop, and I don’t travel much with my laptop, so it’s hard to judge, but it certainly doesn’t seem any worse than before. And the memory management may allow me to run more apps at once but it doesn’t necessary make things faster. And on my older iMac, it seems to a just a little slower running than before.

Another thing I have noticed is sometimes the speed of directory listings slows. Click on a folder and you have to wait many seconds before the contents are displayed. Blech. Again, not a deal breaker, but it does interrupt the flow of your work.

In regard to application conflicts, I have been keeping my apps up-to-date using MacUpdate Desktop or the built-in updated mechanisms in the apps themselves and the only things I’ve really had to do is reinstall JRE and X11. It was a one-time thing, but it would have been nice if it had noticed and left it alone or gave me the option to automatically reinstall. Even my copy of CS5.5 works fine without upgrades.

One bonus is that in most cases your iLife and iWork apps, if you have them, all get free upgrades. So if you use them, you can get all the latest features. iPhoto libraries and iMovie files will need updating but that’s always been the case. And it’s nice to have the latest sharing options and smoother scrolling.

Overall the experience hasn’t been bad and the advantage now is that all my Apple machines are running the same version of the OS, which hasn’t happened for a while. It’s now easier to switch between machines and simpler to maintain them. If you find that a convenient thing, maybe you should too. Because, you know… it’s free.

So tell me. Have you installed Mavericks? What was your experience? Share with the whole class, please.

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