How to get started with Windows on a new Mac?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by amz1, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. amz1 macrumors newbie

    Jun 18, 2009
    My apologies in advance if these questions are very basic. I've tried searching the forum but haven't found the answers I'm looking for. I've finally had it with microsoft and I'm taking the plunge into the Mac world, but I will continue to need to run some Windows applications. I'm going to buy a MacBookPro 13" 2.53 GHz and I want to run Windows on it through either Parallels or VmWare (I'd also like the ability to run Windows through Bootcamp but most of the time I'll be using Windows and OSX at the same time). I've got 4 questions about all of this that I have not been able to figure out so far.

    1. I want to run Windows XP, not Vista or 7, because I have a legacy program I need that works perfectly under XP and not necessarily under the newer OSes (hence my current migration to the Mac). But I've never bought a stand alone copy of Windows before - it has always come installed on any PC I bought. Searching online seems to lead to a dizzying variety of WinXP (not just Pro vs Home) but Special Builder Edition vs OEM vs etc. etc. I want a legal copy that I'll be able to freely update without any hassles. What should I get? (And where's the best/cheapest place for it if you have any suggestions?).

    2. Once I own a copy of Windows XP, what's the best way to install it on my new MBP? Should I install it under BootCamp first? And then install Parallels and/or VMWare on the Mac? If so, do I have to install Windows again under Parallels/VMWare, or will they recognize that it is already on the machine under Bootcamp?

    3. When I first install Windows I believe that I'll have to make (irrevocable?) decisions about how much disk space and Ram to give to the Windows installation. Is this correct? I would be grateful if anyone has any suggestions about what good numbers would be for these decisions. The MBP will have 4 GB RAM and 250 GB HDD. I expect that I'll probably be running both OSes almost all the time. I'm also planning to run Windows software (that I already own), such as the legacy program I mentioned above (Ecco), MS Office, Endnote, Quicken, The Bat!, and probably some others as well. So I definitely want to be able to have multiple Windows applications and/or documents open at the same time without a big performance hit. On the other hand I don't want to needlessly give too much of the MBP's ram or hdd to the Windows install and be left with weak performance on the OSX side of things. I expect that my music/videos/photos will all be getting accessed primarily through OSX, so I'm not sure how much hard drive space Windows will need, but I'm assuming that the Ram demands may be more significant. Any suggestions regarding what settings I should make when I first install Windows? (And am I correct that it will be impossible or at least very technical to change these later?).

    4. Regarding the question of Parallels vs VMWare, I've read so much conflicting advice about which is better that I was thinking of installing trial versions of both and trying them out for myself. Is it possible to have them both running on the same Mac without screwing things up? Is it possible to have them open at the same time? (That seems like it would be asking for trouble and there's no real need for me to do that). (And of course if anyone can suggest any compelling reason to go with one over the other I'd be happy to hear it).

    Many thanks for any guidance you can give me about any of these questions. I've been reading a ton online but I've been unable to get these 4 basic questions sorted out.

    Abe Z.
  2. umiwangu macrumors 6502

    Sep 4, 2006
    I don't know about the Special Builder Edition, but I've used new OEM editions from and they work fine. The only caveat is that you can only install them on machine, which should work fine for you. AFAIK, this means that if your Mac goes bust and you want to install it on another Mac (whether Boot Camp or a VM), that would technically be illegal. As to whether or not MS would do something about it is not something I would bring up. Here's the link to the OS page. I would just go ahead and get 32-bit XP Pro, but it's up to you -

    I would install it with Boot Camp first, since you can then use that same partition under Parallels. Now, I've never done this (Boot Camp > Parallels/VMWare), so don't take my word for it. I've just used Boot Camp.

    If you decide to just use a VM (virtual machine), then you can change the hdd size any time. If you're storing most of the stuff on the Mac side of things, then just make the partition 40 GBs or even less (esp for XP). I ran XP on a 12 GB partition for a while and just managed to scrape by. If you use Boot Camp, then AFAIK, you can only set the partition size once. I would still just use 40 GBs or less.

    As for RAM, with Boot Camp, Windows will use all of the RAM. With a VM, you could probably get away with giving Windows just 512 MB, or even less. I would set it to 512 and see what it's like. This setting you can change any time.

    Just note that you'll need some kind of software on the Windows side if you want to access the Mac partition, like Mac Drive.

    No idea on this one... As I said, I just use Boot Camp since I don't really have enough RAM to run both at once.
  3. baypharm macrumors 65816


    Nov 15, 2007
    I use VMFusion and XP Pro. After VMFusion is installed it will guide you the rest of the way for installing XP Pro. When I did it - everything went quickly and without a hitch. I now can have a Windows box open as well as Safari. I don't use Windows all that much but there are a few programs I have that required it.
  4. solsol macrumors newbie

    Jul 1, 2009
    boot camp and parallels

    I just suffered through this over the weekend and found some tips that might help. I installed Vista in a Boot Camp partition (80gb) then created a VM in Parallels 4 from that partition. It blew up several times, but here is what finally worked. I used 80gb based on the size of several Xp and Vista machines in the office that have lots of software installed.
    Don't use a password in the original Vista install. That blew it up.
    Plug in a USB mouse when Parallels is trying to set up the VM. For some reason Parallels has a difficult time with the keyboard/trackpad in the Mac when setting up a Boot Camp partition.
    Use Winclone to backup your Boot Camp partition. WIsh I had done that the first time.
    Good Luck
  5. elgrecomac macrumors 65816


    Jan 15, 2008
    San Diego
    Another vote for Fusion

    Inexpensive, fast, easy to install....and it WORKS!
  6. Stridder44 macrumors 68040


    Mar 24, 2003
    Everything umiwangu said is pretty much spot on.

    System Builder discs are the cheapest way to getting a legit copy of a Windows OS, but you can only install it on one machine at a time. You get the disc and that's it. No manual (who really needs one though), no support, no box. But honestly all those things are worthless fluff anyway. I'm not 100% on this next bit, but I'm pretty sure you have to call Microsoft to get a new activation code if you decide to install on a different machine, but getting the new code is free of charge.

    Sounds like productivity is important for you, so definitely run it in a virtual machine.
  7. Mugwumper macrumors regular

    Jan 19, 2008
    Temecula, CA
    What I did was . . .

    Hi -

    I installed VMware Fusion, using the default settings, and I, too, bought an
    OEM version of XP Pro SP3. I did a normal installation in VMware without
    doing the BootCamp step, and have not had any issues (2+ months). And
    for fun, I also installed a Windows 7 RC2 in another VM - also no problems.

    My iMac has 4GB RAM, and everything I read said get as much RAM as you
    can so that you don't impact the running of MacOS things with a VM also
    running. My XP Pro VM has 1GB allocated to it, and it's very fast - I've set
    a 2GB environment for VMware.

    As far as using the XP Pro VM, I can install any piece of PC software I need
    by downloading it from IE 8 directly into XP. I have also managed to set up
    both a video camera and a digital recorder through the USB ports, with no
    degradation. (could never do this with just the Mac side previously)

    And I use the Mac desktop as the place where I can put files that can be
    shared with the XP side. I ended up needing to convert a Mac Word 2008
    .doc to a PC Word 2007 (actually a 98 - 2003 version) file - I left the results
    on the desktop, then e-mailed it to a client who needed it, and everything
    worked perfectly.

    Hope this helps . . .


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