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Boot Camp: Installation and Implications
June 29, 2006 | Michael Kottler

Towards this end, Apple is going to be including the ability to install Windows on your Intel-based Mac in next big OS X update, Leopard. But if years of enduring the release of cool games and expansions for PCs only has prompted a fervent desire to get Windows running on your Intel Mac ASAP, then Apple's Boot Camp is for you.

Although there are several other methods out there, Boot Camp, currently available in beta, is by far the simplest. Apple has taken great care to provide an extremely easy-to-use program which allows even neophytes to pave the way for Windows on their Intel Mac. The following demonstrates just how easy Boot Camp is to use.

Installing Windows on your Intel-based Mac
• Mac OS 10.4.6 w/ most recent firmware updates installed
• Windows XP Service Pack 2 Install Disk and serial number
• Boot Camp
• Intel-based Mac with 10 GB free HD space
• A blank CD-R

To avoid experiencing an unpleasant "Oh-Dear-God-Please-Not-Another-Massive-Data-Loss" moment, you will probably want to back up all your important files before beginning. An install process gone awry could result in disaster. As Apple puts it, "Be sure to get this right, or you could erase your Mac files accidentally." In any situation where files run the risk of being inadvertently erased, "getting it right" means making sure crucial stuff is protected. In other words, always make sure that important files are backed up before beginning any potentially dangerous procedure.

Once you have verified that your Intel-based Mac is running OS 10.4.6 with the most recent firmware updates installed and has at least 10 GB of free hard drive space, you can begin the Boot Camp installation.

Start Boot Camp. It will create a Windows XP driver install CD. Then follow the prompts to create a hard drive partition for Windows to live in. Verify that the Windows XP install disk is in the disk drive and click "Start Installation". Your Mac will restart from the Windows XP install disk and offer you prompts to guide the process. Pretty cool! Finally, restart the system and hold down the Option key to bring up the boot drive selection screen where you can choose which system you want to run. Boot into Windows XP, perform the final system configuration, and insert the XP driver install disk and it will auto-install. Restart, and that's it! At this point you should be able to boot up into Windows XP and everything will work just like it was running on an Intel box (which it is). Wow, that was easy!

Granted, there are a couple of gotchas: for instance, the sound driver doesn't support the headphone jack quite right (sound continues to come through the laptop speakers when headphones are plugged in). However, given that Boot Camp is a beta there will undoubtedly be better drivers down the road.

Now that you have successfully transformed your Intel-based Mac into a bad-arse dual-boot machine, the salient question becomes "What games can I run?" According to most reports, the answer is just about any game you want. Games tested thus far span a wide spectrum of genres and include Far Cry, Tiger Woods PGA Tour, and Motocross Madness II (Griffiths, Macworld April 05, 2006).

Not only is it theoretically possible to run just about any PC game, but most peripheral devices like mice, printers, and disk drives also work immediately and without major issue.

Which leads us back to the question of whether or not Mactel owners will cease waiting for the Mac port of a given game and instead purchase the Windows version, which almost always comes first.


Archives  Features  Boot Camp: Installation and Implications