Apple Joins 'Win on Mac' Army with Boot Camp

- 2006.04.07 - Tip Jar

Apple has weighed in on the "Windows on Mac" movement. Too late to win the $14,000 prize money awarded in March, but in typical Apple style much more elegantly and after keeping their efforts secret.

Apple's new Boot Camp Public Beta web page outlines steps required for preparing your Intel-based Mac and includes links for the software downloads needed for Apple's method of installing and running Windows XP on a Macintel running the just-released OS X 10.4.6 update.

An 83 MB download is required, which is used to burn a CD including drivers for the graphics, networking, audio, and other hardware used on the various Macintel models. It also includes a Startup Disk control panel for Windows, to make it easier to switch between Windows on the Mac OS. (I'm assuming that the Startup Disk preference panel on the Intel Macs will also recognize the Windows partition if available).

Apple notes that alternatively, the Alt (option) key can be held down to allow a user to chose between Mac OS X and Windows at startup.

Apple notes that users will need an Intel Mac with OS X 10.4.6 and the latest firmware, at least 10 GB of free hard drive space, and a Windows XP SP 2 installation disc. Windows Media Center is not supported.

Apple strongly recommends printing out the instructions. The software download includes Space Maker, which Apple describes as "the most elegant hard drive utility ever". It can be used to free up hard drive space by moving files to non-destructively create a partition for the Windows software. (Apple notes that it can also be used to remove the Windows partition.)

Apple notes that it can be tricky to select the newly-made Windows partition rather than the Mac partition during the Windows installation. Making the wrong choice can nuke a user's Mac installation, so a fresh backup is a good idea.

Apple also notes that running Windows on a Mac makes a user subject to all the same security hazards as running Windows on a PC.

The company also notes that this technology will be part of Leopard, the next version of OS X. What's been made available now is a public beta for people who just can't wait and are willing to be on the cutting edge. (No phone or fee-based support is available from Apple for the public beta).

I haven't had the opportunity to try Boot Camp yet, but it appears to be light-years easier than the patched together methods outlined last month by the contest winners. LEM

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Alan Zisman is Mac-using teacher and technology writer based in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Many of his articles are available on his website, If you find Alan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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