OS X Yosemite Beta 4/ Public Preview Beta 1: First Impressions

Beta 4 of Yosemite was recently released to the public as a Beta 1 public preview. In part 1 of this 3 part series, I’m going to talk about Installation and setup.

I’ve been a full blown Mac Switcher since about 2010 or so. Snow Leopard and Lion really got me hooked and I’ve just about made a full transition over to the Mac side of the fence.  The only thing I really still run Windows for (aside from reviewing Windows-based apps) is Outlook. However, I’m hoping that with (what should be) Office for Mac 2015 – if and when Microsoft decides to get off its lazy duff and release it – I’ll be able to make a full transition over to Mac.  I have too much invested in Outlook over the past 14-15 years to leave it totally behind…at least just yet.

And while I kinda say that “get off its lazy duff” thing with a bit of tongue-n-cheek, it’s really said out of frustration. It’s been FAR TOO long since the release of Office for Mac 2011; and I’m actually afraid to give Outlook 2011 another go.  The reasons for that go back to a review I TRIED to write of the “new” app back in late 2010-early 2011. After 2 weeks and well over 24 database corruptions (where Outlook 2011 crashes, says it can’t read your data and then redownloads your entire data store from your Exchange server again – leaving the original, unusable database still on your hard drive) I gave up. I also didn’t publish the review – it was, and is, too critical – for Microsoft, and when something is THAT bad, a good reviewer says nothing. Sometimes silence is more damning than screaming and yelling; BUT I digress…

So, I’ve been very interested in the next version of OS X, code named Yosemite, since its announcement at WWDC.  What really caught my attention was the amount of announced integration between a Mac and an associated iDevice. Effectively, your Mac can become your iDevice while you’re on your Mac, at least according to the demos at WWDC and all of the documentation we’ve seen so far.

I’ve got the Public Beta of Yosemite installed on my MacBook Pro. Let’s take a look at some of my first impressions to see if the hype stands up to scrutiny.  I’m going to cover a number of different areas here, and will likely point out some opportunities for improvement that I hope Apple will address, going forward.  I have let my Mac Developer account lapse at this point and I don’t plan on updating Yosemite with Developer Beta 5 unless things prove to be a total train wreck.

OS-X-Yosemite-578-80

FYI – Please note that the only way to go back from Yosemite to the latest version of Mavericks is to nuke your drive and reinstall Mavericks from scratch.

Installation and Startup
As of this writing, this is probably my biggest pain point. Installation went fairly well. That wasn’t too much of a problem at all, really. It was smoother than I thought it would be, especially for a public beta release. Those can often be problematic at best, because you never really know what you’re going to bump into in the wild, and end users often have the GOOFIEST computer configurations… Managing beta programs and feedback is often a huge headache. I applaud Apple and other major vendors like Microsoft, for doing this when and how they do.

As I said, installation was fairly painless. The new OS downloaded from the Mac AppStore, installation started, and everything went smoothly. However the experience after installation has been less than stellar. I have a number of startup issues with Yosemite and 3rd party apps that I know from the developer are supposed to be Yosemite compatible, but are showing signs of hangs, bugs and issues; and even force quits.  Unfortunately, this behavior isn’t limited to 3rd party apps. There are also issues with some of the Apple Core apps, as well. I’ll cover issues with those, below.

The biggest issue I have, however, is really with startup.  I have two external monitors hooked to my Mac – a 27″ Thunderbolt Display and a 22″ wide screen VGA monitor.  I’ve got my Thunderbolt Display setup as a docking station (I’ve got peripherals and cables plugged into the back of it) and there are issues with device startup, especially with the displays.  I’m not certain what the issue is; but for some reason, neither wants to activate with the notebook closed.  My Mac not only has to start up, but be logged in with the lid up before the other two external displays will activate, allowing me to close the lid. I need to do more troubleshooting here before filing an issue in the Yosemite feedback app.

However, this is really driving me crazy. I’m also having trouble with the Thunderbolt Display flickering; and it wasn’t behaving that way prior to installing Yosemite on my MacBook Pro. I have no idea what the issue is; but knowing the way Apple is apparently remaking nearly absolutely everything with this latest release, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a driver issue. It seems the most common explanation.

I am also having a huge issue with my fans. They are usually pegged at 5700-6200 RPM’s and stay that way 20-30 minutes after I turn my Mac on. I’m not certain if this has anything to do with external monitor use (i.e. a graphics driver issue) or if it is caused by increased network traffic on my home network (i.e. a network driver issue) or something else.

However, while they don’t make a lot of noise for me, I’m told that my family can’t hear me speak over the snow-like noise they create during a FaceTime call.  While I had this problem with Mavericks, its worse with Yosemite. I’m not certain what is going on here, but it’s creating a communications issue for me and my family, and I’m not happy with the results. I have filed a bug report with Apple on this, and I’m waiting on feedback from them.

Do you have any questions about OS X Yosemite installation or setup?  Did you bump into problems?  Let me know in the Discussion area below, and I’ll do my best to give you a hand.

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