Installing Windows 7 on a Mac with Snow Leopard and Boot Camp

After a few months of waiting my copy of Windows 7 finally arrived in its shiny new box with the rounded corner yesterday morning. Since then it’s been sitting on the table waiting for me to get round to installing it onto the Mac Book Pro, which has been quivering in the corner for some time now. Last night was the backup. I’ve opted to use an ethernet connection from my MBP to my Powerbook, which serves as my backup destination these days.

With that done and my data safe it’s time for my MBP to get used to sharing.

I find Boot Camp Assistant, crank it up and partition my hard drive giving a healthy 48GB. This is so much easier than the toil I went through partitioning my PC when I installed XP. Thank you Apple.

It takes a little time to create the partition. Once done, I insert the Windows 7 CD and click Start installation.

My MBP reboots off the CD and I get to select my language options. After selecting them I choose the partition created by bootcamp – the one with BOOTCAMP in the title – and click Format. I was hoping to be able to select FAT32 so that I could share files with the MacHD but W7 doesn’t give you the option and automatically formats it as NTFS. Looks like VMWare Fusion is needed at some point.

After accepting the licence we’re away and Windows 7 starts its installation with the Install Windows dialog. First it copies the Windows files, then expands them before installing features and updates. Time for a cuppa.

The first of the system reboots happens. A message appears saying Starting windows services before the Install Windows dialog appears again.

The screen flckers black and then reappears again. This is presumably some kind of refresh that has to happen. The installation is now two-thirds complete with the green bar gradually extending to the right across the bottom of the screen.

A message appears saying setup will continue after the computer restarts. Predictably, the computer restarts. Ah! The chimes – some semblance of the Mac is still there. I can’t remember who produced the Windows’ notes but it doesn’t compare. I seem to remember it was a famous composer who had to do it and supplied over 100 versions to Microsoft back in the ’90s. Anyway, onwards …

Okay, things are happening. It’s setting up Windows for first use and checking video performance. And a (low res) dialog to enter my username and computer name. Remember to use a mouse with your MBP at this point as it’s far easier to navigate the screen due to the trackpad drivers not being installed yet.

It’s time to set up the password. Unlike Macs you’re forced to do this. It’s no bad thing but it would be nice to be trusted to make this kind of decision yourself. After all, I did pay good money for it. Moving on, I get the product key message next. After hunting around I find it on the inside of the plastic container W7 came in. It takes two attempts to get it right as normal with Windows product keys but then it’s off authenticating its authenticity before coming back with three options:

  • Use recommended settings
  • Install important updates
  • Ask me later

I’m tempted to take the Ask me later until I remember this is Windows so I plump for the max option and click Use recommended settings. Better safe than sorry. The time zone window appears so I leave that as it is. It’s automatically worked out where I am.

Next up is the wireless network. Mine appears so I click that and while performing living room gymnastics I copy the key on the underside of my router into the Security Key field. Getting it right first time is a relief as my back is starting to seize up. I then get three choices on the next page:

  • Home network
  • Work network
  • Public network

Home network it is …

… it’s thinking and connecting …

… and now finalising settings …

… and done.

The welcome message appears and now my desktop is being prepared for me. How sweet of it to let me know. Whoah! A huge MS icon in the middle of my screen appears like a hive of giant bees just smelled the honey I stole from them earlier today. Must sort that out soon before they get to close.

What to do next though – that’s the question. Referring to my guide I realise I’m on a slightly different path to theirs.

Okay, time to use my intuition so I do a Windows Update and see if that sorts out the drivers. Start > Programs > Windows Update and I’m in a new place where it tells me there are 8 important updates. I add the IE8 one mysteriously not selected and go for the Install button. Yes, I accept the Windows Malicious Software tool. And download begins. What’s on TV … [reaches for the remote]

Updates done, time to restart. Chimes again – ah … and we’re off again. 20 seconds later W7 starts up and begins confuguring the updates.

Time to log in for the first time. And I’m in again. What next? Time to take a look at the resolution I think as it’s driving me mad – those bees are getting too damn close! Yes, right-click is still there with a direct link to screen resolution. I up it to 1440 x 900 and the bees retire into the distance.

Back to the guide where in step 17 it mentions what to do if there are no sounds, something I’d been blissfully unaware of. So the next thing to do (after disabling wireless due to not having any security on the MBP for W7 at the moment) is to replace the W7 CD with my Snow Leopard one. But the eject button isn’t working yet so into Windows Explorer I go and right-click the W7 CD to eject it. This is why you need to use a mouse. In goes the SL CD.

The new style autoplay dialog pops up so I get to click a Run setup.exe rather than search for it in the folder. Yes, I do want to allow the following program to make changes tho this computer seeing as I put the CD into the computer in the first place – trust me, please Windows. I know what I’m doing. Kind of.

Here’s Boot Camp. I accept the license agreement and then click Install the Apple software update for windows. More waiting as this is installed.

While that’s going on I get to watch a bit of Nick ‘BNP’ Griffin in the Question Time bearpit. Hmm. Nope, I don’t think I’ll be voting for him in the next general election. Liberal Democrat all the way, me. Don’t knock them, they’re the only party to actually understand the current financial crisis. Admittedly, their leader looks like he’s just left school but I won’t hold that against him!

How’s the installation doing? Installing Sigmatel Audio … never heard of that one. Now on realtek Audio. Presumably, we’re nearly there as it seems to be alphabetical. Ah, no, cirrus radio is next. Oh well. Trackpad drivers – hooray! That’s going to make life easier though I imagine it won’t have the three and four finger gestures available. And no pinching either – boo!

It’s done and Boot Camp is as well. I click Finish and then Restart. This time when I hold the option key down during the restart I get to see my two partitions. I can go to eiether Mac OS X or W7. Cool.

And that’s in. All in all it took 55 minutes and was pretty painless. The Windows update and Snow Leopard driver update were the main bits that might throw you but the rest was straightforward. Now for the new Aero themes, sounds, loading software, sorting out the trackpad (see the bootcamp control panel – bottom right icon) … oh and to disable the automatic wireless connection as I need some antivirus protection. Norton dual looks good though it isn’t ready yet.

This is purely my experience and while you’re welcome to follow the same road I took I should just out that I’m not responsible for any mishaps you meet on the way though am more than happy to help out if you’re struggling. Be warned though, I may well say ‘Er … don’t know!’ Before doing anything like this always make sure you’ve got a backup and have the OS disks you need and can connect to the internet for the windows updates. Also, check to see that your system meets the requirements specified by the software you’re installing.

Good luck! I’m off to play with software I haven’t used for a year or two …

Windows 7 review on BBC

I’ve just been looking at the BBC review of Windows 7. I ordered a copy a few months back to get it cheap so I’m fairly interested to hear what they have to say. To be honest though, it’s a pretty superficial review as it focuses on the features such as the windows ‘dock’, window resizing and touch screen functionality.

Saying that, I guess that’s what quite a lot of people want to know about, ie how is it different to Vista. I never had Vista so am not particularly interested in that. They do say it’s much lighter. Hopefully, it works better. XP became really bloated with the patches and service packs that went with it, though I wonder how soon it will be before W7 starts demanding similar attention

What I am interested in is running it in parallel to Snow Leopard on my MBP. Boot Camp is installed but VMWare Fusion looks like the best software to use as it allows for a seamless integration of the two systems without them ever confusing each other. I’m not too sure about having to reboot each time I want to use the other OS.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with my Mac. However, I’ve got software for Windows, which I’m hoping will run, that I don’t want to have to buy for the Mac. Admittedly, I’ve become used to using GIMP but the double clicks really get to me after a while. I find Photoshop the more intuitive software but that’s why there’s a hefty price tag to PS and GIMP is free.

Being able to do Flash development is also the thing I’ve missed over the last year or so not having a PC to use my copy of Flash on. Not that I’m some kind of whizz with it but everyone has to start somewhere. Having suffered animation envy for a while now I’m looking forward to getting creative again.

Bird-Feeder for WordPress Tweets

After a quick review of the WordPress plugins available for Twitter (and there are a lot!) I finally plumped for bird-feeder. I only want a lightweight plugin that pushes my blog posts out to twitter using the title as the text. Something that bird-feeder is designed to do and that’s it. I looked at  tweetsuite and tweetmyblog but the first seems to be overkill at the moment and the second feels a bit too self-congratulatory and a bit like you’re talking to yourself too much … give me time – I might change my mind once I get going.

Although new to Twitter, it seems to me a way to get news out to people and to link to more in-depth articles. Having it the other way round would certainly drive traffic to a blog due to the number of links being generated but is it some kind of new link-spam? I’m not sure. Maybe I’m in the minority here but it feels a bit like that. That said, it would be worth experimenting to see the effect – one month without and one month with and see if there’s much difference.

Magento and WordPress Side by Side

Magento is a great piece of kit and is taking the e-commerce world by storm. However, unless you have a good understanding of object-oriented programming and are familiar with extended classes you’re going to struggle a little. At the moment I’m redesigning a client’s site to incorporate an intial splitter page as the home page that then allows them to pass through to the catalogue proper or to the blog.

However, the way I chose to do this was to copy the html source from the home page and redo the html and css manually. However, I’m sure there must be better ways of doing this, such as using includes on particular features. The problem is that the only method I could think of was using an iframe, something I didn’t want to do for reasons that go without saying

As it stands the only drawback is that changes to the Magento catalogue navigation will mean the need to update the static html in the new home page. This is a bit of a bind but isn’t too problematic as the links are permanent. It’s only really when a new section is added that the page will need to be added.

It’s a relatively simple solution without needing to get into Magento code. I’m sure it could be done in a sweeter way but this seems to be the least complicated way and one that fits with the client’s budget.

Magento Widgets Available

In community version 1.4 of Magento a new option to add user-designe widgets will be available. This represents a big step forward for Magento, the shopping cart software to use. For more information see Getting dynamic data onto your pages will be a fairly simple process soon.

(Taken from the Magento blog)

  1. Dynamic product data in Marketing Campaign Landing Pages
  2. Dynamic Information such as Recently Viewed Items into Content Pages
  3. Promotional images to position in different blocks, side columns and other locations throughout the storefront
  4. Interactive elements and action blocks (external review systems, video chats, voting and subscription forms)
  5. Alternative navigation elements (tag clouds, catalog image sliders)
  6. Create interactive and dynamic flash elements easily configured and embedded within content pages for enhanced user experience

A good reason to upgrade from the 1.2 and 1.3 versions, though I’d advise giving 1.4 a few months to bed in.