Hackers Get Intel Mac to Run Windows XP

March 8, 2008 – 6:21 PM

A contest to see who could first get Windows XP working on an Intel Mac has been won, according to the contest’s coordinator, Colin Nederkoorn. The “Windows XP on an Intel Mac” page provides a link to a download that includes software and instructions for use.

Nederkoorn first put the contest together after he ordered an Intel-based MacBook Pro for work.

“I told my boss that this would replace my IBM desktop and I could boot Windows XP on it,” he said, and to put his money where his mouth was, he put up $100. He suggested that others with an interest in seeing a dual-boot Macintosh do the same.

To date the contest has raised over $13,854 in donations, including significant additions from Digital Express, Delicious Monster, and Uneasy Silence. Nederkoorn says that any further donations will go to support an open-source project created to maintain the work that has already been done.

News that Windows XP was working natively on an Intel-based iMac first came to light several days ago, when two enterprising users who go by the monikers “narf2006” and “blanka” posted pictures to an account on the Flickr photoblog service purportedly showing Windows being installed on the system. A video followed, and the solution has since been verified by Nederkoorn and his testers.

Not a Simple Install

Getting Windows XP to work on the Mac is not a plug and play process. According to the documentation included with the file download provided on Nederkoorn’s Web site, users must create an install CD themselves using a PC equipped with a CD-R drive, Microsoft’s Windows XP SP 2 CD-ROM and Nero CD burning software. Step by step instructions for creating the disc are included.

Users must also reformat and repartition their Intel Mac’s hard disk drive to include a separate partition where Windows XP can be installed, then go through a multistep process to make sure the software is installed properly and the Mac can recognize it.

Once that’s done, users will be able to switch between Mac OS X and Windows after rebooting the Mac.

Nederkoorn notes that with this process in place, all three current Intel-based Mac models can run Windows with the exception of the 20-inch iMac, but he suggests that a fix will be ready by the time a download is available. He also offers a variety of caveats. Native graphics drivers aren’t in place yet, for example, so video performance is limited–a blow to Mac gamers who had hoped for a solution that would let them play Windows games on their new Mac hardware.

“There is no chance you could play a game using this solution, aside from Minesweeper,” says Nederkoorn. “It looks like a fix for this may be a ways off yet.”

The Apple Remote and the iSight Webcam don’t seem to work yet, either.

Windows XP already can function on Intel Macs, but only through the use of machine emulators, which work more slowly than many users would like. The most popular emulator, Microsoft’s Virtual PC, does not yet support Intel-based Mac hardware, and Microsoft has not yet indicated if or when an Intel version might be released.

Hope that Macs might support Windows out of the box dwindled last week during the Intel Developers Forum, when a Microsoft rep told attendees that Windows Vista will not support EFI, the boot technology Macs use, at least until a server version is ready in 2007. And even then, Microsoft said the support will be restricted to machines that use 64-bit processors. Apple’s current crop of Intel Macs use 32-bit processors.

To claim the contest prize, the winners had to avoid using emulation. They also had to avoid using virtualization software such as VMWare, which allow multiple operating systems to work on a single computer simultaneously.


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