The Easiest, Cheapest and Most Reliable Way to Run Windows XP / Vista Natively on an Intel Mac

Did you know that OS X on an Intel Mac can run Windows XP / Vista natively? I’m not talking about Parallels / VMWare / “Virtual PC” or any other way of running it inside OS X. I’m talking about your Intel Mac becoming a full fledged PC running Windows just like a Dell or HP computer would. Play PC only games, or run any other PC only software. For free (with a licensed Windows CD.) Here’s how its done.

What you will need:
Before we can get started, you will need each of the following -

- An Intel Mac. (MacBooks, MacBookPros, Newer iMacs or Power Macs)
- OS X Leopard installed on your Mac.
- The OS X Leopard DVD that either you bought or it came with the computer.
- A valid Windows License code
- A Windows Vista or XP install CD

Note: The Windows CD you use can be from an older computer, just make sure you have the license code. You probably will have to Activate it.

Also, if you are using XP, the CD must include SP2.

Lastly, the CD must be an install CD, not an upgrade CD.

Let’s Begin:

1. In OS X, open the Utilities folder and run “Boot Camp Assistant”.

2. Partition your drive accordingly. As long as you have the room, I’d go with the 32 GB option. It leaves a good amount of space left on your OS X drive and decent room on the Windows side.

3. Enter your Administrator password.

4. Once it is done, you have two options – to install Windows now or later.
- If you choose to do it later, just run Boot Camp Assistant again to get back to this point.

5. Insert your Windows CD when prompted and enter the administrator password if asked.

6. The computer will restart and begin installation.
- If you’ve ever installed Windows from the CD on a PC before, this process will look familiar.

7. Very Important: The Windows installer will ask which partition to install on.
You must select the “BOOT CAMP” partition.
- If you don’t, Windows will destroy your entire OS X system and neither OS will work.

8. Now, let Windows format your Boot Camp partition with either NTFS or FAT. The choice is yours. NTFS is more secure but unreadable from OS X.

Note: If you choose the last option for do not format, the Boot Camp install will fail.

9. Windows will format and install onto the Boot Camp Partition.

10. Go through the Windows installer process and the computer will restart when complete.

11. After Windows is installed, insert your OS X Leopard DVD to install the required drivers for your system.

12. Configure Windows to your liking.

13. Set which system to startup when you restart the computer (OS X or Windows)
- The setting is in Control Panel -> Boot Camp

14. Run Windows Update.

15. Activate Windows if necessary.

16. Install your PC Applications.

17. Enjoy the best of both worlds.

Note: To quickly choose between systems, after you press the power button to turn on the computer, hold the option key. Two hard drives will pop up – Macintosh HD for OS X and Windows. Just pick the one you want to use.

This is the easiest and most reliable way to run Windows on an Intel Mac. I’ve used Parallels and it is great but it’s not perfect. Running it inside OS X means that both systems have to share resources which cripples performance. Also, there are hiccups with certain applications and devices. Lastly, if you are a gamer, Parallels is not for you. The only downside is that if you want to run Windows or OS X, you have to restart the computer.

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  1. B. Potts says:

    I am not one to complain about something like an operating system. I do like th Mac given I am a graphic artist working in west Hollywood. We do use a lot of Mac’s and I love them for their simplicity. However….

    (stop reading here if you prefer not tot hear bad things about the Mac OS..

    The Mac as a PC is just crap…

    Does not work….

    But a PC and a Mac if you need to have both.

    But no Mac will work as a pc…I’v tried with Boot Camp…it doesn’t work, will never work…it is just a great concept that can’t live up to what it should be.

    Wish you luck.

  2. David Balogh says:

    But no Mac will work as a pc…I’v tried with Boot Camp…it doesn’t work, will never work…it is just a great concept that can’t live up to what it should be.

    I’m sorry that you’ve had issues getting this to work.. However in my case as well as many others, Boot Camp works like a charm.

    Review the instructions, particularly the part where you let Windows format the Boot Camp partition.

    Also review the necessary requirements:
    - An Intel Mac
    - A 10.5 Leopard DVD (Retail or included with a newer Mac)
    - A valid Windows License Key
    - An XP or Vista Install CD with Service pack 2 already included.

    XP Service Pack 1 and Windows upgrade CDs will not work.

    Also, OS X 10.4 Tiger’s Beta ended on January 1st 2008 and will not create a Boot Camp image anymore.

    Good luck