Running Windows 8 on a Mac – Through Boot Camp

Although Parallels Desktop 7 already gives users a way to run Windows 8 on a Mac, some of us prefer running our test operating systems natively and without the help of virtualization software.

For Mac users this means using Mac’s dual-boot tool, Boot Camp. You may have heard that Boot Camp doesn’t work with Windows Developer Preview, but this is only half-correct.

With a few tweaks and some patience you can actually get Windows 8 running just fine without too much of a hassle.

To get started you will need to have at least 25GB of free space and 2GB of RAM. It is also necessary that you have a DVD burner for creating the Windows Developer DVD; of course these days just about everyone has a burner so this shouldn’t be a problem.

Keep in mind that this is pre-Beta software and it is generally recommended not to install it on your primary computer. If you do install it on your main machine, make sure you back up your hard drive to minimize any risk.

Now it’s time to describe the step by step instructions for successfully getting Windows 8 on your Mac. For those wanting a visual walkthrough you can find one on Techwalls.com.

  1. First open up Boot Camp Assistant, found at Applications>Utilities>Boot Camp. Once you have it opened you’ll see a screen that talks about what Boot Camp does and suggesting you make a backup.
  2. Click continue and it will ask whether you want to download Windows support software or if you have it already on a DVD/CD/Flash. This is up to you, actually. Keep in mind that almost ALL the support software won’t work in Windows 8 but if you search for the drivers manually and run in Win7 compatibility mode some of them will. Generally, I recommend just choosing the option “You already have the files on DVD/CD”, and just skip installing them altogether.
  3. Next you will be asked to make a Windows partition. Choose at least 25GB in order to store the OS and have a little breathing room.
  4. Once the drive is partitioned you are ready to install Windows 8. Windows 8 doesn’t seem to work from a Flash install and will need to be burned onto a disc. Boot Camp will detect the disc and prompt you to restart.
  5. Once your Mac has restarted you will be guided through on-screen instructions and when the installer ask you were to put Windows, select the boot camp partition you made previously. Once selected go to “Drive Options (advanced)” and make sure that you choose the NTFS file format. You will then have a more instructions and prompts to follow, yet finally it will be over. Your PC will restart and you will be in Windows.

If you are running Windows 8 on your Mac laptop there may be some small compatibility issues with the track pad, and you might have to use a USB mouse instead.

Otherwise most of the drivers for things like wireless, Ethernet, video, and sound should automatically work with Windows 8 on most Mac models.

Keep in mind that since we aren’t installing Support Drivers (unless you decide to experiment with this at your own risk), restarting will just bring you back to Windows.

In order to return your active partition back to your Mac and boot in OSX again, just hold down the OPTION key during restart. This will bring up a list of available startup drives and give you the option to choose your OSX partition again.

Switching back to Windows is the same process, only choose the Win8 partition at boot-up instead.

Keep in mind that this is a Developer Preview, and things can go wrong. As mentioned before this version should only be for testing and playing around, do not attempt to use it for crucial productivity needs.

All in all though, using Windows 8 on a Mac is a fairly painless process and should prove to be a fun experiment at the very least.

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