Windows on a Mac

Category: Apple-Mac

I've heard that Apple is now making Mac computers with Intel chips, which power Windows PCs. Does this mean I can now install Windows on a Mac?

Windows on a Mac

Installing Windows on a Mac

Yes, Apple recently announced new software called Boot Camp, which helps you install and run Windows XP on your Mac. And no, you don't have to give up your beloved Mac OS X operating system and files. You can have both Windows and OS X on your Intel-based Mac computer . It'll cost you a few hours of your time, about a hundred bucks for the Windows software, and a chunk of your Mac's hard drive.

"Heresy! Why would anyone want to install Windows on a Mac?" Well, without wanting to fan the flames of a holy war, I'll simply say it's a Windows world. Ninety percent of all personal computers run Microsoft Windows, so most software and website developers focus their efforts on the Windows platform. As a result, there are many websites that are not accessible to Mac users, and many software packages that have no equivalent Mac version.

If you're a gamer, or if you're into digital music and videos, you know this already... a lot of the cool new stuff is Windows-only. And many Windows software packages ported to the Mac lag or lack in features. So given the alternatives -- buy a second computer to run Windows, or install Windows on your Mac -- the choice is clear. If you have an Intel-based Mac (Mini, iMac, or MacBook Pro) and the latest version of Mac OS X (Tiger v10.4.6 or higher), you're ready to report to Boot Camp.

Surviving Boot Camp

Before downloading the Boot Camp software, make sure you have the latest firmware updates (see, a minimum of 10GB free hard disk space, a blank recordable CD, and the Microsoft Windows XP (SP2) install disk. You can use XP Home or Pro, but not an upgrade or Media Center version.)

Leopard, the next release of Mac OS X, will fully support the installation of Windows XP. But for now, you'll need to download Boot Camp at to make it happen. Start Boot Camp and it will help you create a new partition on your hard drive for the Windows system. For most users a 10GB Windows partition will be fine. But if you plan to install lots of space-hungry games or other software, bump it up to 20 or 30GB. Remember, your Mac OS and personal files stay right where they are. Your Windows OS and files will be completely separate, in the new hard drive partition.

Next, Boot Camp will create a CDROM with the software drivers that Windows needs to work with your Mac hardware. When you finish burning the driver CD, you'll be prompted to insert your Windows installation disc. After installing Windows you’ll insert the CD you burned and install the Mac drivers.

No Safety Net: Apple warns that you must be careful to select the C: drive when installing Windows, or you could nuke all your Mac files. And since Apple doesn't sell or support Microsoft Windows, don't go cryin' to them for help if you wipe out your OS X partition while installing Windows.

Running Windows on a Mac

Congratulations, you've finished Boot Camp! Now when you start your Mac, hold down the OPTION key to choose between Mac OS X and Windows. If you boot up with Windows, you can just restart to come back to OS X. But remember, this is "real" Windows (not a simulation or emulation) with all its splendor, and all its gotchas. So be sure to run Windows Update and download all the latest patches and security fixes. And of course you'll need good anti-virus and anti-spyware software.

For help selecting your "anti" software, read Should I Buy Anti-Spyware or Anti-Virus Software?. And for tips on getting the most out of your Windows OS, read Make Windows XP Run Faster!

Is Mac OS on a Windows Box Next?

Now that Apple has made it possible to run Mac OS on Intel hardware, do you think they will sell the operating system separately and allow you to install it on an off-the-shelf Windows PC? Post your comments about running Windows on a Mac, or the idea of running Mac OS on a Windows PC below...

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Most recent comments on "Windows on a Mac"

Posted by:

Bob Tate
13 Apr 2006

Great! Now all us Mac users can be eaten up with spyware, worms, and virus activity, too!

EDITOR'S NOTE: There's really nothing to stop that from happening now... except market forces. The malware developers focus on Windows PCs because that's where 90% of their market/victims are. If Mac OS gains significant market share, you'll be swimming in the stuff too! You DO run a good anti-virus program on your Mac, right?

Posted by:

14 Apr 2006

One of the reasons for Boot Camp I am sure is so that Windows users can buy a slinky Mac and try the OSX experience with a safety net. New Mac owners get OSX and multimedia consumer apps iLife included as a bundle, and after using that integrated suite, for most people there would never be a need to access Windows-only multimedia apps. Using them is like falling off a log.

Windows users will probably think OS X is less snappy than XP, which is true, for one app at a time, but Macs are amazing for workaholics and a big plus that most Windows users will not realise till they use OS X is that you can run your multimedia software, render video, or burn a CD while surfing the net, writing a letter, and have 20 apps open and ready to run at the click of an icon - with no slow down or hanging, until your RAM is consumed, on a basic machine.

The security side of things for OS X is not a Windows disaster in waiting either. It is a UNIX operating system that has been running security obsessed corporate software for 20 years, designed to cope from day one for multi users and internet use and abuse. Out the box OSX will not allow a rogue program to run unless the admin says go. Obviously Windows can be locked down successfully, if you know how, but as always with security, users are the weakest link, downloading and installing unknown software will break any security systems, butthe saving grace as ever with OSX over XP is that an average user doesnt need to be a systems admin to lock down OSX or get the most out of the Operating System.

As a former Windows user I make no apologies for really appreciating the liberating and calming effect of using OS X and will now prepare my flame proof suit.

Posted by:

20 May 2006

I think this great to allow the user to have more options. I am curious on how Windows will perform under boot camp? Maybe it will be advantages to let you readers know the performance gain/loss running Windows XP on a Mac.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Windows isn't running "under" Boot Camp. Boot Camp is just a way of adding a partition to your Mac's hard drive. Once you install Windows in that partition, it's running native on the Intel hardware, just like it would on any other machine. There should be no noticeable performance difference.

Posted by:

17 Apr 2010

Dear Bob ,
My Notebook is MacBook Pro 15" with Mac OS X 10.6 installed
But actually I don't like to deal with Mac OS coz it's some hard and definitely prefer Windows Microsoft coz of it's ease
I knew that the Boot Camp Assistant Application helps me for that purpose but ,
it's just could make one partition for windows and no capability for partitioning and dividing either :-

1. before installing windows or after
2. inside Mac OS or inside Windows OS

coz if I did any of 1 or 2 , window couldn't work anymore
Actually what I want you to help me in is to :
make 1 partition for Mac OS and 3 partitions for Windows OS
I don't know how to do that
Please help me
Thanks ,

Posted by:

12 Jun 2012

Is there any update to this that would allow one to run Win7 on a Mac? And what do you think of Office written to run natively on a Mac? How does it compare to Office 2010? I would love to go back to Mac, but I would find it hard to leave behind the (Windows) Outlook functionality after so many years of dependence on it.


Posted by:

Robert W. Bone
28 May 2019

Please change my email address to the following:

Thank you.

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