Is there a way to enhance the Boot Camp experience?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by skaertus, Sep 14, 2014.

  1. skaertus macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    Brazil
    #1
    I know there are several topics about Boot Camp in this forum, and some of them seem to mention some of the issues I am about to talk about, but I did not want to pollute those topics with a lot of off-topic issues, so here it is.

    I do have a 15-inch MacBook Pro with retina display (early 2013); it has a 2.4 GHz quad-core Core i7 processor (Ivy Bridge), an NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M, 8 GB RAM and a 256 GB SSD.

    I have Windows 8.1 installed via Boot Camp 5.1.2 under OS X Mavericks (it is an upgrade from Windows 8 that I bought last year). This is the same installation I use with Parallels (I used Parallels 9 and then I upgraded to Parallels 10).

    I am having a lot of trouble with Boot Camp, as my Windows experience is very poor in my Mac under Boot Camp. The reason is not Windows. Windows runs fine under Parallels and it provides a good experience, although there is a serious performance penalty. Windows also runs f• ine in PC laptops. But my Windows experience under Boot Camp is very poor and I wanted to share this in search of a possible solution. I can see that most people just claim that a Mac can run both OS X and Windows and that, therefore, it is the best machine to run Windows. This is far from the truth, and nobody seems to dive deep into the details that make the Windows experience so crap in a Mac.

    There are two annoyances at first:

    Under Boot Camp, Windows 8.1 keeps asking me to activate my license, even though it has already been activated. This is because I am running the same installation under Boot Camp and Parallels. I have already used the phone activation as instructed, and it worked fine, but now Windows under Boot Camp is asking for the installation to be activated again. Very annoying.

    Under Boot Camp, there are issues with the control of brightness. I know that there is a workaround for this, and it requires installing Boot Camp drivers all over again. I have just yet not done it.

    The main annoyance, though, is with the trackpad. The multi-touch trackpad which just amazing under OS X is very crappy under Windows running on Boot Camp.

    Two-finger scrolling is very bad under Boot Camp. In addition, there is a delay when I double-click and drag. These two issues are very annoying.

    I installed TrackPad++ so I could have a better trackpad experience. However, it seems to me that TrackPad++ does not support double-click and drag; it requires me to use three fingers to drag a window, for instance. It is a much smoother experience, but far from ideal. And the two-finger scrolling does not seem very smooth even with TrackPad++.

    When I use Windows under Parallels, the experience is much better. First, I am able to double click and drag without delay. Second, the two finger scrolling works better, although it is not in the same level of smoothness that I have under OS X.

    People might say that this lack of smoothness is a Windows thing. Well, it is not. I was just playing around with an Asus Zenbook at a store last week. The double click and drag thing worked just fine. And I was impressed by how smooth the two-finger scrolling was under Windows. Really smooth and comparable to what I get with my Mac under OS X. Maybe not at the very same level as OS X, but, if not, then really close.

    So, I guess if there is a way to enhance my Boot Camp experience, especially the trackpad. Is it a problem with the drivers that are so crap? If so, can I install another driver (such as the driver that comes with that Asus)? Or is the problem with the trackpad itself, that runs perfectly on a Mac but does not get along well under Windows (I understand that these Windows machines use different trackads, perhaps Synaptics and, therefore, the way they interact with the OS is different)?

    Can I have a similar experience running Windows on my Mac as I would get running Windows in a similar high-end ultrabook? Or the solution is that very same old story – you do not need Windows and you are not supposed to run Windows if you own a Mac; and if you want Windows, just get out of here and buy yourself a Windows machine, you bastard?
     
  2. Gjwilly macrumors 68030

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    #2
    Only way around this one is to buy a seperate license.
    The physical machine and the virtual machine are technically two different computers, each requiring thier own license.
     
  3. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

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    Mar 4, 2013
    #3
    Perhaps something changed with Windows 8/8.1, but I can activate Windows 7 on my Boot Camp side then do a phone activation for Parallels and both work fine with no further nagging.

    You don't even need to do that. Go into device manager and under monitors disable the "Generic PnP monitor." This should allow you to control the brightness using your built-in keyboard.

    Unfortunately, this is something you're just going to have to live with. Apple's trackpad driver for Windows exists only to provide the most basic functionality. I had similar issues as you did with Trackpad++ as well. I don't blame Apple because after all, the point of owning a Mac is to use OS X most of the time. Boot Camp is merely a courtesy.

    Windows co-exists on a Mac just fine as long as you are comfortable living within its limitations (poor trackpad, no graphic switching, greatly reduced battery life on MacBook Pros with discreet GPUs). It's far from an optimal solution if your plan is to spend most of your time using Windows. My general rule of thumb is that you shouldn't buy a Mac unless you intend to use OS X at least 75-80% of the time. Anything less, and you would be better served with a dedicated Windows machine.
     
  4. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #4
    I think a separate license is not required for running Windows on a virtual machine. I think one license would be good for both, even though Windows tends to recognize as different installations.
     
  5. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #5
    At least it should work this way.

    Thanks, I will try that.

    Well, this is my biggest problem with Windows on my Mac. This whole "best of both worlds" thing is flawed. Boot Camp is not a courtesy because Apple advertises Boot Camp as a way of running Windows on the Mac, so it should well. And I have seen both Apple and Mac users praise Boot Camp by saying the Mac is the best platform because it allows one to run both OS X and Windows. Some users even say that a Mac is the best PC one can find. This is far from the truth.

    Has anybody tried to install a different driver for the trackpad? Will the Mac trackpad run with another Windows driver? I don't think so, but I would like to hear from someone that actually tested it.

    Yes, indeed. I like the Mac environment, but sometimes I am trapped in a Windows program, and I wish Windows support was better. I will take this into consideration when I buy my next computer.
     
  6. laurihoefs, Sep 15, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2014

    laurihoefs macrumors 6502a

    laurihoefs

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    #6
    Microsoft actually considers a VM a computer that needs a separate license, even if you run it on the same hardware as a bare metal installation.

    See for example Windows 8 License Terms:
    Edit: As for performance issues, do the drivers from NVIDIA website work for the 2013 rMBP? If they do, an upgrade might help a great deal. The drivers Apple includes with Bootcamp are very old, and don't generally perform well.

    The trackpad driver Apple provides is bad, and always has been that way as far as I know. It's something that you'll most likely just have to learn to live with...
     
  7. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #7
    I think this would only apply if you use a different Windows installation as a virtual machine (i.e., if you have Windows and then you install Windows on a VM; or if you have Mac with Boot Camp and then you install Windows on a VM). I do not think this applies when you use your Boot Camp installation as a virtual machine.

    At leas this is what Parallels says: http://kb.parallels.com/en/9703
     
  8. laurihoefs macrumors 6502a

    laurihoefs

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    #8

    answers.microsoft.com has several threads, where representatives tell that you need a separate license. Parallels just basically tells you how to get around the activation.
     
  9. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #9
    Well, why doesn't Microsoft take down the Parallels webpage then?

    In any case, does this mean that I have to buy another Windows license to use the very same installation under Boot Camp and Parallels? This is getting really expensive.

    I will just think of doing that if I find a way to enhance my Windows experience under Boot Camp. Otherwise, this is not worth my money.
     
  10. laurihoefs macrumors 6502a

    laurihoefs

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    #10
    That's what it means, but you can get around the issue by following the instructions Parallels provides.

    The problem is, that while you should (as per licensing terms) have two licenses, if you use the Bootcamp partition as the VM, you can not in reality activate both installations with separate licenses, because they are actually the very same installation. You have to activate one of the licenses twice, using the phone activation system. Sounds confusing? It is, and completely idiotic, of course. And the reason why most people I know don't bother to get the second Windows license at all.

    Microsoft really should update the licensing terms, and Apple really should get their act together with their Windows drivers. MS might come to their senses, unfortunately Apple has not shown any signs of doing so... The current situation with all these issues is a real PITA.
     
  11. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

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    #11
    As far as I'm aware, the trackpad hardware is proprietary so there aren't going to be any other drivers except for those provided by Apple and supplemented by Trackpad++.

    I can kind of see the argument for Mac being the "best platform" because of the ability to dual boot natively in terms of the iMac because the hardware is really solid. For notebooks, that's simply not true because of the limitations of the hardware and software. That being said, for the reasons I use Windows (primarily gaming), those limitations do not bother me. The trackpad is not a concern because I use a mouse. Lack of graphic switching is beneficial because some games, mostly older ones, do not behave well in such environments. It also means I only need to install one set of GPU drivers. Lower battery life isn't a problem either because the system is always plugged in when I run Windows.

    It's all a matter of perspective, but if you find yourself needing to use Windows frequently, it might be best if you went that route for your next upgrade.
     
  12. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #12
    Yes, I guess Microsoft could update its licensing terms before Apple fixes the Windows drivers. Apple is even more stubborn than Microsoft. I can see that users are complaining about these very same trackpad issues for years now, and Apple will not come with a solution.

    ----------

    Yes. Unfortunately, that seems to be the truth.

    Basically, the argument is that the Mac hardware is better than any PC hardware and, henceforth, a Mac running Windows is better than any PC running Windows. The argument is flawed, of course.

    The solution is, of course, to use a mouse with my Mac when running Windows. Of course it is a very poor solution.

    Has anybody tried Boot Camp under Yosemite? Are there any good news or are we stuck with these crappy drivers?

    Perhaps this is a solution. My main concern is Microsoft Office, which happens to be so crappy under OS X and so great under Windows. The fact is that I cannot get rid of Office, as I use it for work and I cannot replace it with something else, as 100% compatibility is required (despite the fact that Office for Windows is better than every single alternative).

    Something that comes into play when I think of that is that here in Brazil all laptops are very crappy. The only decent laptops are Macs.
     
  13. AxoNeuron macrumors 65816

    AxoNeuron

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    #13
    I have the same exact laptop, windows 8.1 under bootcamp same configuration except instead of 2.4Ghz its 2.3Ghz since it was the summer 2012 retina 15". I am having none of the issues you describe. The brightness works fine, and since its Windows if you try to use the same license for parallels and bootcamp it considers it to be two systems (yep, that's Micro$oft lol).

    As for the trackpad, perhaps ASUS with their zenbook created their own custom trackpad drivers. Obviously Apple doesn't spend much time fine-tuning their windows trackpad drivers. I honestly just bought a mouse for it to use with windows.
     
  14. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #14

    So it means you have the issues with the trackpad but you simply choose to buy a mouse as a workaround?
     
  15. AxoNeuron macrumors 65816

    AxoNeuron

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    #15
    I wouldn't call them issues. It really isn't that bad. It's not as good as it is in OS X but to be honest even the Zenbook from asus isn't nearly as good as the macbook trackpad in OS X. Apple has done the bare minimum in the windows trackpad driver and I don't really blame them, would they really sell that many more macs by improving the trackpad driver? Maybe a few hundred more per year but even that is doubtful. Not worth the time the engineers would have to pour in to it.
     
  16. skaertus thread starter macrumors 68030

    skaertus

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    #16
    Perhaps. But I thought Apple also worried about things like consumer satisfaction, regardless of it actually bringing more sales.
     
  17. saturnotaku macrumors 68000

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    #17
    I'm no software engineer, but there could also very well be APIs in OS X that are not present in Windows that do not allow for similar trackpad functionality between the two operating systems.
     

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