Windows 7 on a MacBook: Kind of a pain to install

But it's sweet once it works with all the drivers installed

Let me step back a bit. I already had a license for Win7 Home Premium upgrade. That means I had to install it on top of Windows XP or Vista. So, I had to install XP Home first, which I also had a license for. Getting XP up and running was the root of my issues.

A while back ago, Apple pushed out an EFI update that supposedly removed the necessity to use BootCamp to install Windows or any other OS, really. With a spare partition on my hard drive, I decided to clobber Ubuntu, and install Windows XP over it. That ended up trashing the entire partition table, and bricking my MacBook.

Time Machine to the rescue. 3 hours later, I had restored my OS X partition from bare-metal to a point-in-time backup where the only thing I lost was 30 minutes of browser history. In other words: it worked perfectly. 45 minutes later, XP was installed, but the boot.ini file was pointing to the wrong partition. Using the XP recovery console to attempt a repair, I had whacked my partition table. AGAIN. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

You need XP SP2 or higher, as it turns out. I guess I should have read the entire Boot C(r)amp manual first. I used BootCamp Assistant to create the partition this time, instead of partitioning it during restoration with the OS X install CD. Once XP Home SP2 was installed, I was without any drivers. The OS X CD supposedly contains them, but it was showing up as a blank disk when inserted. I wasn't worried about video drivers, or audio, or anything other than getting it on the network so I could activate Windows and commence the upgrade to Windows 7. For that, I ended up using a Linksys USB wireless adapter (and the driver CD). Then it was home-free.

Windows 7 installed fine without a lot of problems. It had many of the drivers already built-in, including the wireless. The audio and touch-pad drivers were sub-par, though. Other things like the iSight had non-existent support. Again, the OS X DVD I have wasn't showing the drivers under Windows 7 either and the BootCamp download from Apple wouldn't even run. I finally found a BootCamp driver download on the Digiex forum. Of course, you will want to use third-party supplied drivers at your own risk, but it seems to be working pretty well.

All in all, I burned almost an entire waking day attempting to get Win7 installed on my MacBook. A good part of that was the initial install of XP. Going straight to Win7, at least once you have the drivers, is probably not too bad. I can't stress enough how important it is to have a good Time Machine backup before you start, though.

End result:

Let it never be said I'm completely bigoted when it comes to Microsoft. My wife has been using 7 for a few months, and I'm already digging it. This may be Microsoft's best Windows release since Windows 2000, which I also had plenty of good things to say about.

Time will tell as I put it through its paces, but usability is just as good as OS X now that all the drivers are working properly, and this is a rather comfortable operating system for daily use.

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