There are two reasons you should consider installing Microsoft’s latest Windows 8 operating system on your MacBook with BootCamp. One, it’s Screaming FAST, and Two, for a limited time (through 1-31-2013), it’s CHEAP.
Unfortunately, out of the box, Windows 8 is terrible on a non touch screen PC. The Metro interface is confusing, and Microsoft, in all their wisdom, took away the start button in the regular desktop interface. Try to do anything in this mish-mash and you’ll get frustrated quickly. Not to mention that there are no Apple drivers available yet for the trackpad. Can you say external mouse…ARRGH!
If you are not into pain and suffering, stop right here. If you are easily frustrated, don’t have much patience, or hate technical stuff, either go to the Microsoft Store and have them help you or just reboot into Apple and forget about Windows altogether.
However, the good news is, there are some workarounds for these problems. With a little effort, technical skill, and about a half day of upgrading, your MacBook will absolutely smoke.
Here are the details..
Through the end of January 2013, you can download Windows 8 for $39.00 from the Microsoft website. If you already have bootcamp installed and a previous version of Windows running, you just go to the website, run a compatibility checker, and then purchase and download the software. You’ll need at least 20 gigs of formatted disk space free to run the update.
If you don’t have Windows installed, you’ll need to install boot camp (Free from Apple) and purchase a Windows 8 install DVD from Microsoft for $69. Newegg currently has a rebate on Win8 here.
You’ll also need an external USB mouse, since the trackpad drivers will not be installed upon installation.
Follow the instructions for the upgrade with the following caveats…
1. Make sure to write down the serial number when it is presented in the install process. You’ll need it later. Don’t click past this till you make sure you have it correct (Double check it)
2. The install process gives you the option of burning a CD. Choose this option if you have time to do this (Takes about an hour, and gives you a backup if something fails), otherwise just continue with the standard download installation.
Depending on your MacBook system, your internet speed, and the installed software, the install can take up to two hours. Make sure your MacBook is plugged in an that you have a good internet connection.
Once the install is done, which includes numerous reboots, you’ll be presented with a screen to login with a Microsoft email. This can be a Hotmail or MSN account. To make Windows 8 work properly, a Microsoft Email is crucial. If you don’t have one, you can get one free at Outlook.com. (Did you know you can upgrade from a Hotmail account to a new outlook.com address?)
Once you setup your account, the machine will grind away for a few minutes while it creates a profile for you. Then you will be presented with a colorful splash screen with nothing on it. Now what, you may ask?
Install a USB mouse into your MacBook (the trackpad will not work at this point) and click on the screen. You’ll be presented with a login box. Login with your Microsoft e-mail account and password… Viola… The new Metro Screen will open.
To help you get around, take a look at the Windows 8 user guide here and spend some time figuring out the interface.
With the external mouse connected, you’ll be able to maneuver around. The following tips will help you get a useable machine.
1. Restore The Start Button: Install Classic Shell. This free utility restores a start button to the regular desktop interface and you can choose from XP or windows 7 style fly out menus. I found that this software works well, with a minimum of hassle. Adding this button will return the desktop to a familiar and useable interface.
Other start button options and reviews can be found in this helpful article.
2. Get The Trackpad Working: As of this writing, Apple has not released Trackpad drivers that work with Windows 8. Here is the work around that worked for me. Your mileage may vary. (Note: I have a mid-2010 MBP)
- Open Device Manager. This is found in the Windows 8 start menu by typing “Device”, selecting “Settings”, and clicking Device Manager.
- You’ll see two unrecognized entries at the bottom of the list.
- Right Click | Update Driver Software | Browse my computer for driver software | Let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer
- Use generic USB Input Devices for both entries. This will allow the trackpad to move the cursor and left click.
- Right click each generic USB input device and choose to update by searching the Internet automatically. Do this until both the trackpad and the multi-touch devices are updated.
- Enable right-clicking by opening the Boot Camp Control Panel, selecting the Trackpad tab, and checking Secondary Click in the Two Fingers pane.
- This video might help if you get stuck.
3. Run Windows Update manually to install the latest files. Mine took two passes and had almost 30 updates. Once all the updates were loaded and the machine rebooted, the Windows 8 interface screams. I noticed a definite increase in speed from the previously installed Windows 7 and it has a much better response that Apple’s Mountain Lion with common software such as Office.
4. Check Out Office 2013 Preview
5. Check Out 50 Cool Tweaks and Tips for Windows 8
If you are a current Window 7 user, once everything is updated, the trackpad fixed, and the start button restored, you’ll start to feel right at home. I found Windows 8 to be quite a bit faster. If you are a diehard Apple fan, you may not care much for Windows, but Bootcamp gives you a great way to run Windows software without emulation and you may notice a speed increase with office software.
Overall: This update is not for the weak at heart. If you are happy with your current boot camp install, this probably isn’t worth the hassle. If you want the latest and greatest or you have an XP install, with some time and patience you’ll have a very fast machine. (Please note I have a mid 2010 model. Other models may vary. Hopefully Apple and or Microsoft will release a full driver set for Windows 8 in the near future.)
Question: Have you experienced Windows 8 yet?