MacBook Air conversion to Native Windows 7
by Mike Foster - IT Security Professional
Mike posted this on his Facebook page and I am reprinting for you here.
To get to the original post
Please read this completely and make sure you understand - BEFORE you
Please read this completely and make sure you understand - BEFORE you start.
§ In case you ever want to convert an Apple to run only Windows, here are the technical steps I use:
§ Get Mac Drivers for Windows (Apple Boot Camp Windows Drivers)
§ Using a Mac with OS X to generate the Apple Boot Camp Windows Drivers
§ On the (or another) Mac with OS X, keep running apple update until the updates are all current
§ Make sure you have a place for the Boot Camp Assistant to save the Windows support software
§ blank CD, DVD or
§ An external drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT)
§ To format an external drive as MS-DOS (FAT), use: Applications folder > Utilities > Disk Utility
§ Open: Applications folder > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant
§ Follow the on-screen instructions
§ Ok to ignore warnings if you do not have the DVD connected
§ Download the Windows support software (takes a while)
§ Save the Apple Boot Camp Windows Drivers to a CD, DVD, or FAT 32 external disk
§ Used approximately 600 Meg on 3/30/11
§ Stop and exit before allowing Boot Camp Assistant to create a partition for Windows—you won’t need that because
§ You are not going to use Boot Camp
§ We are installing only Windows 7 on the computer,
§ In a later step, we’ll install the Windows support software on your Windows partition.
Eliminate OS X and Install Windows 7
Note—I learned a lot from http://www.zdnet.com. I also copied and pasted, then modified to eliminate redundancy and add clarity, information from documentation at www.apple.com.
By the way, I did elect to purchase a full license of Windows 7 to use just on my Air.
Another important note: From the very beginning, and every time, when booting into windows expect to stare at a white screen for about 45 seconds.
At first, I thought there was something wrong. Just wait it out—after 45 seconds of the white screen Windows 7 will boot fine. I suspect the Air is looking for other boot devices.
§ With the computer turned off, insert the Apple recovery USB rescue device that came with your system. Make sure the four copper connections are facing up.
§ When powering up, hold down the C key to boot to the USB rescue device.
§ Wipe out the drive partitions and create one new partition with a MBR boot sector instead of the Apple GUID one
§ Choose Utilities > Disk Utility
§ Choose the 251GB Apple SSID drive
§ Select the Partition tab
§ In volume scheme set to “1 partition”
§ Name: Windows7 (or whatever you want)
§ Format: FAT32
§ Size: 251GB
§ Options > MBR (Master Boot Record)
§ Choose Apply (and, when prompted, confirm you want to partition the drive)
§ Use the menu at the top of the screen to “quit the disk utility”
§ Use the menu at the top of the screen to “quit the mac OS X installer”
§ Join a Wi-Fi network or
§ Plug in the USB to RJ45 converter and connect via an Ethernet cable
§ Neither is necessary
§ Click on the arrow above the Wi-Fi and the CD “Windows”
§ The computer will seem to turn off and then Windows install starts
§ You’ll be prompted to reformat the drive with NTFS
§ The installation process takes a long time and the computer may seems “frozen” at times but it is still going
§ Install the Windows support software you created earlier:
§ Insert the CD or DVD or connect the external disk with the Windows support software
§ If the DVD drive is not recognized:
§ Shut down the Mac / Windows 7 machine
§ Turn on the Mac again
§ The turning on process may take more than 2 minutes, and the screen will flash, and the computer may seem like it went off
§ Eventually Windows will boot and be able to recognize the CD/DVD drive
§ If the installer doesn’t start automatically, browse the CD, DVD, or external disk using Windows Explorer and double-click the setup.exe file in the Boot Camp directory.
§ Follow the onscreen instructions
§ The dialog will say “Installing Boot Camp” but only the Win drivers are installed
§ Important: Do not click the Cancel button in any of the installer dialogs.
§ If a message appears that says the software you’re installing has not passed Windows Logo testing, click Continue Anyway.
§ You don’t need to respond to installer dialogs that appear only briefly during the installation
§ If nothing appears to be happening, there may be a prompt that you must respond to, but the prompt is in a window that is covered up (came up underneath). Check the taskbar and look behind open windows.
§ After your computer restarts, follow the instructions for any other installers that appear
§ Note: To eject the DVD from the drive
§ Open Windows Explorer
§ Right click (click with two fingers on the touch pad) on the DVD drive icon
§ Choose “Eject”
§ Check for updated Windows support software
§ Use the Apple Software Update inside of Windows (look under “All programs”)
§ Configure Windows
§ Install all Microsoft patches
§ Install IE9
§ Install Microsoft Security Essentials
§ Microsoft patches again
§ Set patches to ask me before downloading or updating
§ Then I used the Windows support software by using Apple Software Update inside of Windows (look under “All programs”) to check for updates again.
§ You may want to search e-Bay for “windows 7 sticker.”
§ In Case You Ever Want to Go Back to Using OS X
§ When powering up, hold down the C key to boot to the USB rescue device
§ Follow the instructions
§ Test and Use
§ USB Ethernet adapter
§ Wi-Fi LAN adapter
§ Video VGA port—MUST PLUG IN VGA ADAPTER PRIOR TO BOOTING WINDOWS
§ Command-P is like Windows-P
§ External CD ROM
Note: If you install Microsoft Office, then PowerPoint will crash as soon as you type a key. The latest Boot camp update disables a keyboard setting in Windows. I found the answer at http://answers.microsoft.com.
· To fix, Open Control Panel
· In view mode “View by Category”, find the section “Clock, Language and Region”
· Click “Change Keyboards or other input methods”
· Press the button “Change Keyboards”
· Press the button “Add”
· Scroll down to “English (United States)” and expand
· Check box “US”
· Press OK
· Press OK—You’ll see two keyboards listed “US” and “United States (Apple)”
· Press OK
In case you use Shadow Protect image backup software on Windows 7 (I do) then note that the apple software updater may interfere with Shadow Protect.
For this reason, I removed the apple updater from my computer permanently. I will miss the updater; However, I would miss being able to perform and image restore even more than I will miss the updater.
Here are some additional notes on using the Boot Camp drivers that I have accumulated with a little help from my friends. Please ready completely before you start.
I'm a Windows guy, and while I do like to keep at least one Mac OS X install around for testing and comparative purposes--something I've done straight through since early 2001, by the way--I already have a desktop Mac (a 2010 Mac mini) that I use for that purpose. And let's face it, the Air's relatively paltry 128 GB of solid state storage is OK for a single OS, but once you start talking about slicing that up for two different OSes, things get pretty tight.
My aim with this machine was to get something thin and light with decent battery life, something I could throw in a bag and, hopefully, not feel digging a new and deeper gap into my shoulder as I lugged it around trade shows and other trips. But more to the point, it was to get a Windows PC, not a Mac. Yes, I happen to like the hardware, and the design. But I want to run Windows 7 on this thing. Would it be possible to simply blow away Mac OS X and dedicate the whole disk to Windows?
Doing so pretty much requires an external (USB) optical drive, like Apple's SuperDrive. And that's because you need to boot the Mac from a cold stop from the Windows 7 Setup disk. (You could use that Refit utility to do this from USB storage, I guess. I did not test this.) And sure enough, it works. Just be sure to download Apple's driver set for Windows before killing OS X, and save it to a USB stick or whatever. But as far as Windows Setup goes, it works just like any other PC, pretty much. Reboot the machine, and hold down the C key at the "bong" startup sound so that it boots from the optical disk. Install Windows, rebooting twice. Insert the USB key and install the Mac drivers, reboot. You're good to go.
This is what I did. And while I'm happy with the results--there's no trace of OS X on this thing anywhere--I'm pretty sure it's not what most people would do, or want. And that's fine. I'm just throwing this out there so you know it's possible.
As for why you probably don't want to do this, read on. Because as I noted in part one of this article, MacBook Air + Windows 7 is a compromise. And the price you pay for this compromise will likely be too high for most people.
Apple doesn't design its Mac hardware in isolation. These machines are meant to be used in tandem with its tightly integrated software, both the Mac OS X operating system and its key applications software, like iLife. What you get on the other side is an end to end experience that most PCs can't match, since your typical PC is a mishmash of software components from a variety of places, and of varying quality.
And that's neat if you want a Mac. If you don't, you need to deal with some compromises. Here's what I've seen so far on the MacBook Air.
The Air was designed for iPad-like startup, sleep, and resume, and with OS X installed, it delivers just that. With Windows, however, things are more leisurely. Fast, yes. But not instant as with OS X. So you raise the lid on the device and wait ... 1... 2... 3... seconds before the logon screen appears. Reboots take 25 seconds, not less than half that time as with OS X. Not horrible, but not as good. (Oddly, about 5 seconds of that are wasted during the light gray Mac EFI/BIOS-type screen, which just seems to sit there when booting into Windows in a way it does not when booting into OS X.)
As for battery life, Apple rates the 13-inch MacBook Air I have for up to 7 hours of endurance ... under Mac OS X. Surprisingly, under Windows 7, I appear to be getting just that, though I've only had the machine for a few days and need to test more. For example, as I write this, the battery is down to exactly 50 percent. And it says I have 3 hours and 34 minutes of life left, using the stock (and default) Balanced power scheme. I haven't changed a thing, and won't. Let's see how it does.
The layout of the Mac keyboard is non-optimal for a variety of reasons and of course the Air's keyboard in particular is a lackluster island-style keyboard with no particularly advantageous quality beyond the fact that it's full-sized. The big issue is the CTRL, ALT, and Windows keys (COMMAND on a Mac). On a PC, these keys are laid out as CTRL - Win - ALT to the left of the space bar. But on the Mac, they're laid out as CTRL - ALT - Win. So you have two choices. You can simply adapt, as I have. Or you can install a third party keyboard remapper and change the function of the Windows and ALT keys. (One such program, recommended by a reader, is InchWest MapKeyboard. I've tried it, and it works fine.)
Unlike with most PC keyboards, Apple designs the top row of function keys to do other things. So F9 is Mute, F10 is Volume Down, and F11 is Volume Up. In the Boot Camp utility that's installed with Apple's drivers (even on a Windows-only install), you can specify whether these keys will work like normal function keys by default (requiring Fn + key to activate any special features) or by special feature by default (requiring Fn + key for the normal function key actions). It ships in the latter configuration by default, so if you want to close an open Explorer window with a keyboard shortcut, you need to use Fn + ALT + F4 instead of the simpler ALT + F4. And most of the Apple special functions don't work in Windows anyway: The volume stuff works, and the screen brightness keys, and Eject and Power. That's it.
Apple ships its portable machines with enormous glass trackpads. I prefer no trackpad or small trackpads generally, because big trackpads tend to cause misfires when you're typing and your palm inadvertently taps the glass. But kudos to Apple for getting this right: So far, I've not had this happen on the Air, so in this case the size of the trackpad hasn't been problematic.
But it's not perfect. Apple's Boot Camp utility lets you configure how right-click works (its off by default, though a weird two-finger tap can enable it too) and whether the pad supports tap to click. But in OS X, the trackpad supports a wide range of gestures, including squeeze and pinch zooming. In Windows, I think, the only gesture that works is two-finger-drag for scrolling in documents and web pages. But it's too fast and I don't see a place to change that.
I'm no fan of glossy screens but surely I'm not the first to notice that the glossy screen on the Air isn't as glossy as many such screens--I have no idea why--and it is bright and beautiful to look at, so I'm OK with it. Also excellent is the resolution: While most 13- and 14-inch PC notebooks ship with a stock 1366 x 768 screen (with no option for other resolutions), the Air comes with a high resolution 1440 x 900 screen. This is key for me, as I often use applications (like Photoshop Elements or Visual Studio) that pretty much require higher-res screens.
On the other hand, my eyes are getting old, and on a 13-inch screen, text at this resolution is often very small and hard to read. You'll want to test this in a store before buying.
One issue that's peculiar to the MacBook Air is that one of the Windows Updates you install post-Setup causes Windows 7 to blue screen, and the only way to get out of it is to reboot the machine into Repair mode, run System Restore, and then reboot again. Of course, doing so wipes out all the updates you just installed, and it took me a few installs before I figured out what was going on.
Turns out there's a workaround, and this is a known issue with Apple's trackpad drivers for Windows, and apparently only for the Air. So what you do is plug in a USB mouse, go into Device Manager and disable the trackpad devices (Apple Multitouch and Apple Multitouch Mouse under Human Interface Devices), install the updates, reboot the PC, and then reenable those devices. (And ditch the USB mouse.) And you're good to go.
It's dumb, but it works. And until Apple patches its drivers to fix this issue, it's a workaround you're going to want to know about if you ever attempt this install, either in Boot Camp or as a standalone Windows install.