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Running Windows 8 on your Mac

John Moltz | July 10, 2012
Maybe you have to do it for work. Maybe you're just curious. Maybe you're a glutton for punishment who lives on the bleeding edge. Maybe you lost a bet. Whatever the reason, you want to run the Windows 8 Preview Release.

Maybe you have to do it for work. Maybe you're just curious. Maybe you're a glutton for punishment who lives on the bleeding edge. Maybe you lost a bet. Whatever the reason, you want to run the Windows 8 Preview Release.

I'm not here to judge you. I'm just here to help you get Windows 8 running on your Mac.

There are several ways to accomplish this, but I'm going to look at four options--Boot Camp, Parallels, VMware Fusion and VirtualBox.

Boot Camp

The first requires items that you probably have around the house--a recent Mac and OS X, which ships with Boot Camp, Apple's dual boot manager.

You might want to run Windows on an older machine, as Windows 8 actually has much less stringent hardware requirements than Mac OS X Lion, but the problem is that only Macs since about 2008 have firmware that can boot from disks with the modified boot sectors Microsoft started using in Vista. I was actually able to install an earlier preview release on a 2006 Core Solo Mac mini, but not the latest release, which is unfortunate. It is possible to extract the install into a new disk image with a normal boot sector, but it's complicated, and you'd need an existing Windows install to attempt it.

So, assuming you have a relatively recent Mac, the first thing you'll need to install Windows 8 Preview Release via Boot Camp is, not surprisingly, a copy of Windows 8 Preview Release, which Microsoft is providing for download at the cost of only a valid email address and your immortal soul. Since we've already determined that you're using a recent Mac, you'll want the 64-bit release. Remember to make note of the activation code. Yes, I said "activation code."

Hey, whoa, whoa. You're the one who wanted to use Windows, remember? Don't shoot the messenger.

Once you've downloaded the disk image, open Disk Utility on a Mac with an optical drive and mount the image in the sidebar. Click on the disk image and burn it to a blank disk. It's possible to use a USB disk image, but that also requires an existing Windows install as well as Microsoft's USB/DVD download tool.

Now get ready to lose some hard drive space! The 64-bit version of Windows 8 requires at least 20GB of disk space; the 32-bit version 18GB. Launch Boot Camp Assistant. On the first screen, uncheck the option to download the latest Windows support software from Apple, and check the option to install Windows 7. (Yes, Windows 7--as of this writing, Apple has not yet updated Boot Camp for Windows 8.)

 

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