Installation of Windows 7 as the only OS on the MBA

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by aprikh1, Aug 18, 2011.

  1. aprikh1 macrumors newbie

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    #1
    I know I am going to get some heat for this, but after playing with my recently purchased MBA, I am absolutely in love with the hardware, but OSX is not my cup of tea. I am not going to go into the reasons why I am not a fan of OSX, and I do not mean to turn this thread into Windows vs. OSX discussion; instead, my goal is to get an understanding of steps involved and plusses and minuses of converting my MBA to run solely on Win 7.

    Those that have converted their 2011 MBA to run Win 7, please chime-in regarding your experience. Is there a guide that could walk me through the process? Also, what about battery life and instant resume, what has your experience been with those? Anything else that I should be aware off?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. fletch33 macrumors regular

    fletch33

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    #2
    i think your best bet would be to install W7 with bootcamp and give it most of the space. you can see how to do this with a quick google of "installing bootcamp on mac"

    hope that helps

    others may have other ideas but to me this is the best option.
     
  3. xraydoc macrumors demi-god

    xraydoc

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    #3
    It can be done, but I recommend leaving a small but bootable OS X partition as it'll be the only way to apply firmware/EFI updates should they be released.

    Just use the Boot Camp utility to set up Windows and give it the majority of space while leaving a 6-7GB (or maybe less) for OS X.
     
  4. Sounds Good macrumors 68000

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    #4
    I am *THIS* close to getting a MacBook Air -- my very first Mac ever -- so if you could PM me with some of your concerns/issues I would very much appreciate it.

    Thank you!!
     
  5. KPOM macrumors G5

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    #5
    x2. While it can be done (look at the Windows on Mac Forums here for some posts on how to do it), it's best to leave OS X on there, since that's the only way to install firmware updates. Theoretically, you do create a bootable clone of your OS X partition on a USB drive, but that's slower. Plus, by leaving OS X on, it will be easier to restore it if you ever change your mind.

    My experience in using Boot Camp is that the battery life is noticeably shorter (probably about 20% less). Apple understandably doesn't really concentrate on its Windows drivers. The Intel HD 3000 supposedly also works better under OS X than Windows for that same reason. The trackpad is more sensitive (almost a bit jumpy), and the only "multi-touch" support is for the two-finger scroll and two-finger click for right clicks. Instant resume works the way it does in Windows. It will go into "regular sleep" or whatever hibernate is called on Windows 7 now, depending on how you set it up.

    The bottom line is that it works, but the upcoming Ultrabooks would probably be a little bit better for pure Windows use.
     
  6. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #6
    Just load bootcamp and partition as much space as possible. It works just like a regular windows machine.

    You con't have the delete button though (delete is backspace) so you're going to have to work around that.

    Or a print screen key; but I mean you can tell what you will and won't have after you use it.

    Keep a small slot for OS X though as you have to use that to fully configure Bootcamp. And you'll need to update the machine somewhere down the road.
     
  7. aprikh1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    What a bummer about battery life! Did you run any quantitative tests, or is your opinion based on the "seat of your pants" feeling? Also, when you instal Win 7, is there a control panel for the trackpad that would allow you to lower the sensitivity? Also, how long does Win 7 take to resume from sleep? Is it on par with OSX?

    Thanks
     
  8. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #8
    This. And you can have it boot into Windows by default. :apple:

    ----------

    I will reluctantly agree with this also. The MacBook Air runs Windows 7 beautifully, but it was not designed for that, so you can't expect the same level of support. There will be some ultra books coming with Windows 7 support built into the design, so if Windows 7 is the only OS you care to run, I would (reluctantly) recommend against the MBA.

    Having said that, I have yet to see another laptop today run Windows 7 as well as the MBA... :D
     
  9. KPOM macrumors G5

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    Oct 23, 2010
    #9
    I didn't run any quantitative tasks, but it just seems to run at higher speeds a bit more often. This ZDNet reporter didn't notice a difference, but generally I have. (Note he also evidently wasn't aware that Boot Camp assistant will create a bootable Windows 7 USB key from an ISO file, but the article is otherwise pretty informative).


    http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/windows-7-on-the-macbook-air-dont-go-there/14714


    I think you can use the regular control panel settings to tweak it, but I'm not sure and would have to check it (it's definitely usable, though, just not as smooth as in OS X).

    Sleep mode is pretty much the same as OS X, perhaps even quicker right now because of the well-documented Lion bugs.
     
  10. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #10
    Well you can hover over the battery thing and get an estimate like you can in OS X. I would get around 5 or so hours, depending on what I'm doing.

    It's a long time but I don't really use Windows aside from playing games anyway so it isn't that much of a problem.

    But yea, expect to see an hour cut off of your normal time when doing the same things in Windows.

    But yea, go into the default Windows control panel and you can change the sensitivity and speed of the trackpad. You can also go into the Bootcamp settings and enable two finger scrolling and touch to tap.
     
  11. aprikh1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    Well based on everyone’s feedback I will be installing Win 7 via bootcamp. Also, the Ultrabooks looks mighty promising, but I had to sell my ThinkPad X201 to justify the MBA purchase, and I must have a working laptop so I would not be able to wait to get an Ultrabook.

    I’ll spend sometime trying to iron-out the kinks of installing Windows 7 on the MBA, and based on the quality of the user experience I will either be a happy camper or have to crawl back to the OSX camp.
     
  12. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #12
    So... just because I'm nosy, why did you sell your Thinkpad for a MBA if you are just going to run Windows on it?
     
  13. komoornik macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #13
    Come on guys, you're being too picky.

    MBA runs Windows great. Most of the components inside is made by Intel - all of this stuff got great Windows drivers support.

    And why would I want to buy MBA ? Coz there's no such good device on market.

    I'm gonna buy 11"/4/128 model. The only competitor for now is Samsung 900X1B which is more expensive and it only got really slow Core i3 ( compared to MBA's i5 ).
     
  14. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #14
    ? Did you read that before you posted it?
     
  15. ZBoater macrumors G3

    ZBoater

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    #15
    You won't be spending too much time. As a long time Windows user, installing Windows 7 via Bootcamp on the MBA was the easiest Windows installation EVER. And I mean EVER. The process was fairly straightforward, Bootcamp walked me through the process of creating a bootable USB stick with the Windows 7 source files from an ISO image plus it downloaded all the MBA drivers into its own Windows Support directory on the USB stick, and it restarted the MBA into the setup process off the USB stick. After that was done, I ran the .exe file inside the Windows Support directory, and all the drivers for all the components were automatically installed.

    They do Windows better than Microsoft... :)
     
  16. komoornik macrumors regular

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    Jul 29, 2011
    #16
    What do you mean?

    If you're gonna say it's not gramatically correct, save it.

    I'm not a native american.
     
  17. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #17
    Not so much grammar, but the "nothing is as good on the market" point.

    But, my apologies; knowing that you aren't a native English speaker, I can't simply read and infer what you meant from that post.

    *offers hand*
     
  18. scarred macrumors 6502a

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    Jul 24, 2011
    #18
    fwiw. I'm the exact opposite of the OP. I've been a windows fan all my life, but OS X is a breath of fresh air for me.
    * I love the gestures for navigating around everywhere.
    * I do like the launchpad concept (still needs a bit of work).
    * The mac app store is so nice to have as well.
    * Automator is such a slick little tool, if I switch back to windows, I'll have to go find a similar utility.

    What I miss from windows...
    * On one hand I find Windows Explorer better than Finder, but on the other, I actually don't find I need to use Finder in OSX much at all.
    * The windows task bar is more usable then the Dock.
    * I'm used to the minimize, maximize, restore, and close buttons in windows. I think they are more consistent then the three traffic lights. Only way I can figure out how to properly close an app in osx is Cmd+Q, which is now easy to do, but weird that I need a shortcut to perform such a common task.
     
  19. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #19
    ^Right click on the icon in the dock and hit quit.

    But yea, it is weird, but the way the applications are structured, what you see is just a "window" of the application, not the application itself.

    Although it's kind of weird, once you get used to it and use various applications for a while, you'll understand and appreciate it :)

    I hope anyway lol
     
  20. Herdfan macrumors 6502

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    Apr 11, 2011
    #20
    That's cool. Didn't know about that. Like the "Hide" option as well. I do miss Windows method of minimizing by clicking on program in the taskbar though.
     
  21. Young Spade macrumors 68020

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    #21
    Command M for minimize, Command H for hide.

    It's simplified for the average person in that they don't have to "quit" things and it would allow them to be loaded faster whenever they were next opened, making the whole experience seem faster.

    But after using a black Macbook for 3 months (no multitouch trackpad), I found that using keyboard commands increase efficiency so much more than actually clicking on things.

    I pretty much just use either commands or gestures now... rarely do I ever actually click on an icon, text, or anything like that.
     
  22. aprikh1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #22
    So I successfully installed BootCamp and have been happily running Windows for the last few days. Here are a few of my personal observations regarding using the MBA with Windows, your mileage may vary:

    1. Battery life is reduced. I get three hours, with moderate use. Outlook, Firefox, and Word open, perhaps a VM running in the background.
    2. Windows resumes very quickly once the lid is open; I would say within 2-4 seconds. Unfortunately, when Windows goes to sleep the wireless network connection is dropped, and it takes another 4-10 seconds for the connection to reestablish itself.
    3. The battery drain while the computer is asleep under Windows is about 1% every two hours. So with Windows, the laptop will not be able to remain in stand-by for 30 days as under OSX.
    4. Secondary display detection under Windows is a hit-or-miss. I am using the DVI and VGA adapters, and it seems that I have to perform a rain dance to try to get a projector or a second monitor to be acknowledged by Windows.
    5. PowerPoint has a known bug that causes an immediate crash when typing under Windows with the MBA. There is a fix, but be aware and Google this issue when using Office 2010.

    Cheers
     
  23. fletch33 macrumors regular

    fletch33

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    #23
    6. left click on the trackpad is a little tricky and takes some getting use to. it appears to work in a particular area and not just anywhere on the bottom left as it does in OSX.
     
  24. aprikh1 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Sep 4, 2010
    #24
    For other users of BootCamp and Windows 7, how is your battery life with moderate use? I get 3 hours with the following use-case:

    1. Firefox, Word, and Outlook open, maybe a VM
    2. No video running (Flash or anything else)
    3. Screen at 40% brightness
    4. Bluetooth off
    5. WiFi On
    6. Keyboard backlight is On at 20% brightness

    I have an 11 inch MBA with an i5.

    Cheers
     
  25. MJL, Aug 24, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2011

    MJL macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    If I may chime in here (and apologies for those who'll have sore toes that I'll be stepping on).

    I've been a Thinkpad user for the past 10+ years, buying a new machine every 8 - 10 months and having two at any given time.

    For reasons of deteriorating eyesight (complication of a rare and severe form of arthritis) I had to go to a larger screen and a 17 or 19" laptop do not cut it.

    A glossy screen is a no-no, I cannot stand the reflections and I get a headache within a short timespan.

    Got myself the 2010 Mac Mini knowing darn well a new model was imminent - if faced with a choice today in the shop between the 2010 and 2011 model I would go for the 2010 model. A couple of reasons: less heat and a DVD built in.

    Experimented a lot with backups and recovery. Recovering a combined OS X and Windows installation on the same disk is a hit or miss undertaking (depending on the fault that occured). How important this is to you I do not know but my data is worth a lot and besides the time spent to recover when I am in a hurry is important too.

    Windows has solid built in SSD support and runs like a charm if it is the only OS on the internal disk. SSD support if you have both Windows and OS X on the same SSD is an large unknown.

    Windows requires less memory than OS X, 4 Gb is sufficient for Windows 7 versus 8Gb for Lion.

    Just either clone the internal disk to an external disk using CopyCatX or install OS X on a 32 Gb USB key for those rare occasions that you need to install a firmware update.

    Play around with Windows system timers / idle settings and pay attention to the wireless card, usb ports if the system is allowed to turn these off. They can lead to large power saving yet they do not always "wake up" when required. However wireless can be set to transmit at a lower power. You may also want to check the setting if a LAN signal is allowed to wake up your PC.

    I really tried to like OS X but I am finding its functionality tailored to "minimum maintenance and maximum pressure to use Apple's on-line stores and online storage". Unfortunately that goes hand in hand with diminished functionality however for the majority of home users this is not important. (they do not do complicated work on their machine).

    If you ever have worked with dumb terminals and a mainframe (which a lot of the younger generation has not gotten a clue about) then you realise that the present move it towards that direction again. Those who worked dumb terminals certainly have no ambition to go back to that scenario again.

    I mainly selected the mini because there is no equivalent small powerfull package available locally. However if Apple carries on in the direction it is going then I can see that it may be not only my first but also my last Apple purchase.
     

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