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An illustrated guide to Boot Camp and Windows 7

Ladies and gentlemen, the time has come for TUAW to introduce our illustrated guide to installing Windows 7 with Boot Camp. Windows? On a Mac? Blasphemy! Yes, yes... we hear you, but we could argue the pros and cons to having Windows on a Mac all day. So, let's just get to the installation process. Be warned, it's a lot of pictures and step-by-step information. It's not necessarily a "fun" read, unless you want to make fun of how I click a button...
This guide is intended to be an illustrated step-by-step tutorial from start to finish. The first step is opening the Boot Camp Assistant. It can be found in Applications > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant.
Here you'll see the opening window of the Assistant. Feel free to print out the guide that Apple offers you here (It's 13 pages). If you're able to follow along with this guide, don't worry about it and save the paper.
In this step, you are creating the separate partitions for each OS. My Snow Leopard partition was more than half of the available space on the drive, so it didn't allow me to choose the "Divide Equally" option. Instead, I chose the "Use 32 GB" option because I don't need a whole lot of space for my Windows partition. You can also drag the divider to whatever size you would prefer.
After the drive is done partitioning, the assistant gives you the option to start the installation now or quit and install later. If you're ready to go, pop the Windows 7 DVD into your optical drive and click the "Start Installation" button. Your Mac will shut down and boot to the installation DVD.


Apologies in advance for the not-so-awesome iPhone pictures of the Windows side. Unfortunately, I don't know of a screen capture solution for the installation of Windows 7. Here the installation is obviously gathering the necessary files from the DVD and getting ready to help you cheat on your Mac.

Still loading files... I'm not gonna lie, I find the new start sequence artistically appealing. The way the logo glows makes me want to stare at it. I like shiny things.

Right before this, you're given the option to select a language - that's up to you. Here, just press the "Install now" button.

PLEASE read the license terms for the software, every single word. It will save your life. When you are done, click the check box next to "I accept the license terms." If you do not agree with them, take the DVD, throw it in the trash, restart the computer, hold down the option key, and select Macintosh HD at startup.

Theoretically, you're doing a fresh installation of Windows 7. In that case, select the "Custom (advanced)" installation. Considering you don't have any files on your Boot Camp partition at the moment, this is the best option. You could however start the upgrade process from here if you already have Vista installed on your machine.

Select the Boot Camp partition and choose "Drive options (advanced)."
Since there isn't any information on the Boot Camp partition at the moment, you can feel safe pressing "OK" here. It's not a bad idea to double check that you have the Boot Camp partition selected before doing so. We don't want anyone overwriting the Mac partition by mistake.

After you format the drive, you'll click next... The installer copies the necessary files into place and then unpacks the actual files from DVD to the Boot Camp partition.

During the installation process, the computer will restart several times. Unfortunately, you'll need to hold down the option key each time it restarts so that you make sure it boots into Windows and not the Mac OS. In my attempts, the boot manager would always default to the Mac OS instead of Windows.

When you're holding the option key, you'll see the boot manager appear. At the left, you should see your hard drive (I have a custom icon on mine) in the center is the Boot Camp or "Windows" partition and on the right, you'll see the installation DVD. We don't need to boot to the installation DVD at this point... just the "Windows" partition so it can finish the installation.

After it finishes the last few steps in the installation process, Windows 7 restarts your computer again. Don't forget to hold down the option key as it's starting. Select "Windows" again and it'll bring you to the next step.

On first boot, Windows 7 does a few things to test your computer... It's obviously looking for the necessary drivers to allow your computer to run. It's also checking your video card to see what resolution it can use for the OS. You would obviously want to use the Snow Leopard DVD to install the drivers after we're done here... but it still needs to know what to do for the first boot.

Once it's done with tests, Windows 7 kicks you into the User account setup shown here. You have to create a user name and computer name so that you can take advantage of all the features of the Windows 7 Operating System. Click "Next."

You'd be silly not to have a password on your computer in general... so type one in. You can leave it blank if you really want to.

Now for the fun part! Yes, that 25-digit alphanumeric Product Key needs to entered here. As it states, the dashes are added automatically. I took the picture before I typed my Product Key for obvious reasons.

In this step, you choose how Windows 7 protects your computer. If you use recommended settings, it automatically turns on Windows Firewall, Windows Defender, Automatic Updates, and a few other things. I'd recommend using the default settings and then digging into them more from the Control Panel later. Deciding now will not permanently determine these settings, you can always change them.

Select your time zone and make sure that the date and time is set properly. Again, you can always change this later.

If you are within range of a wireless network, it will show it here. If you're wired, it will also give you an option to set up your network. At the bottom left, you can enter the details of your network if you have chosen to hide your SSID.

After you connect to your network, it will ask you what type of network you have connected. The choices are fairly obvious. If you are at home, choose "Home network." Each level of unfamiliarity will add more security to your network settings. As it suggests, don't choose "Home Network" if you're sitting in a coffee shop.

My house is both Mac and PC so I can work on varying projects. Windows 7 setup automatically detected other Windows 7 machines on my network that were part of a homegroup. Homegroups exist to easily share content between computers on a home network. I use Windows 7 Media Center as a DVR for all of my TV. I can then stream that recorded TV show to any other Windows box in the house.

I could do this in previous versions of Windows by messing with a lot of sharing settings and having access to the TV show files... but Microsoft has taken a step in the right direction here. By entering my homegroup password, I can have it do all of the grunt work and it shows up under "Shared TV" on all of my Windows boxes in the house. (No, I'm not in love with Windows 7... both platforms do some things very nicely, and this is really the only aspect of Windows I like.)

That's it! It is finalizing all of the settings that you just inserted in the last few steps.

Welcome to Windows 7! Now it's time to insert your Snow Leopard DVD and install the Apple Drivers for Boot Camp. There are probably more current drivers for your video card depending on the machine. Check with nVidia or ATI for that information. Other than that, run Software Update and get through all of your user account customizations. Personally, I can't stand the UAC notifications so I disable those right away.

After a few customizations of Windows 7, I feel right at home. Thanks to Object Dock, I can get essentially the same look and feel of the Mac OS dock on the Windows platform. Hope you enjoyed the walkthrough... I know it was a lot, but there's a long process to the Windows installation. Plus one for Apple and their easy installs!

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