Friday, March 30, 2012 12:49 PM
I’ve had my 15” Mac Book Pro for a little over a year now, and its hands-down the best laptop I’ve ever owned…hardware wise.
And I tried, I really really tried, to like OSX. I even bought Parallels so I could run Windows 7 and all my development tools while still trying to live in an OSX world. But in the end, I missed Windows too much. There were just too many shortcomings with OSX that kept me from being productive.
For one thing, Office for Mac is *not* Office for Windows. The applications are written by different teams, and Excel on the Mac is just different enough to be painful. The VM experience was adequate, but my MBP would heat up like crazy when running it and the experience trying to get Windows apps to interact with an OSX file system was awkward. And I found I was in the VM more than I thought I’d be. iMovie is not as easy to use for doing simple movie editing as Windows Movie Maker. There’s no free blog editing software for OSX that’s on par with Windows Live Writer. And really, all I was using OSX for was Twitter (which I can use a Windows client for) and web browsing (also something Windows can provide obviously).
So I had to ask myself – why am I forcing myself to use an operating system I don’t like, on a laptop that can support Windows 7?
And so I paved my MBP and am happily running Windows 7 on it…and its fantastic! All the good stuff with the hardware is still there with the goodness of Win 7. Happy happy.
I did run into some snags doing this though, and that’s really what this blog post is about – things to be aware of if you want to install Win 7 directly on your MBP metal.
First, Ensure You Have Your Original Mac Install Disk
This was a warning my buddy Dylan, who’s been running Win 7 on his MBP for a while now, gave me early on. The reason you need that original disk is that the hardware drivers you need are all located there. Apparently you can’t easily download them, so make sure you have them ahead of time.
Second, Forget BootCamp
The only reason you need BootCamp is if you still want the option to boot into OSX. If you don’t, then you don’t need BootCamp. In fact, you don’t even need BootCamp to install Win 7. What you *will* need though is a DVD with Win 7 burnt on it. Apple doesn’t support bootable USB drives. Well, actually they do for Mac Book Airs which don’t come with optical drives…but to get it working you’ll need to edit a system file of BootCamp so your make of MBP is included in an XML document, and even then you *still* are using BootCamp meaning you’ll be making an OSX partition. So don’t worry about BootCamp, just burn a Windows 7 disc, put it into the DVD drive, and restart your MBP.
Third, Know The Secret Commands
So after putting in the Windows 7 DVD and restarting your MBP, you’ll want to hold down the ‘C’ key during boot up. This tells the MBP that it should boot from the DVD drive instead of the hard drive. Interestingly, it appears you don’t have to do this if its the Mac OSX install disc (more on that in a second), but regardless – hold down C and Windows will start the install process.
Next up is the partition process. You’ll notice that there’s a partition called ETI or something like that. This has to do with the drive format that Apple uses and how they partition their system drives. What I did – I blew it away! At first I didn’t, but I was told I couldn’t install Windows on the remaining space due to the different drive format. Blowing away the ETI partition (and all other partitions) allowed me to continue the Windows install.
*REMEMBER – No warranty is provided or implied, just telling you what I did and how I got it to work.
Ok, so now Windows is installed and I’m rebooting. Everything looks good, but I need drivers! So I put in the OSX install DVD and run the BootCamp assistant which installs all the Windows drivers I need. Fantastic! Oh, I need to restart – no problem.
OH NO, PROBLEM!
I left the OSX install DVD in the drive and now the MBP wants to boot from the drive and install OSX! I’m not holding down the C key, what the heck?! Ok, well there must be a way to eject this disk…hmm…no physical button on the side…the eject button doesn’t seem to work on the keyboard…no little pin hole to insert something to force the disc out…well what the…?!
It turns out, if you want to eject a disc at boot up, you need (and I kid you not) to plug a mouse into the laptop and hold down the right-click button while its booting. This ejected the disc for me.
Finally, Things You Should Be Aware Of
Once you have Windows up and running there’s a few things you need to be aware of, mainly new keyboard shortcuts.
For instance, on the Mac keyboard there is no Home, End, PageUp or PageDown. There’s also no obvious way to do something like select large amounts of text (like you would by holding Shift-Home at the end of a line of text for instance).
So here’s some shortcuts you need to know:
Home – fn + left arrow
End – fn + right arrow
Select a line of text as you would with the Home key – Shift + fn + left arrow
Select a line of text as you would with the End key – Shift + fn + right arrow
Page Up – fn + up arrow
Page Down – fn + down arrow
Also, you’ll notice that the awesome Mac track pad doesn’t respond to taps as clicks. No fear, this is just a setting that needs to be altered in the BootCamp control panel (that controls the Mac Hardware-specific settings within Windows, you can access it easily from the system tray icon)
One other thing, battery life seems a bit lower than with OSX, but then again I’m also doing more than Twitter or web browsing on this thing now.
My laptop runs awesome now that I have Windows 7 on there. It’s obviously up to individual taste, but for me I just didn’t see benefits to living in an OSX world when everything I needed lived in Windows. And also, I finally am back to an operating system that doesn’t require me to eject a USB drive before physically removing it! It’s 2012 folks, how has this not been fixed?!