So confused buying my first mac tomorrow but afraid to step 100% away from windows

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by FTLOSM, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. FTLOSM, Aug 7, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011

    FTLOSM macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    I have been wanting a mac and recently my pc blew out from an electrical storm (despite having a great surge protector) lightning kicked its butt.

    Ok so i am forced to do something buy another pc or try a mac, but ill be honest I am a bit afraid to totally let windows go 100% at least at first that is...

    I have been reading for over 4-5 hrs on the differences of bootcamp and parallels etc and altho I haven't used either I "think" something like parallels would work best for me, (more convenient) I am not a gamer but there are a few windows programs i will miss (nothing too intensive).

    So then comes the whole what version of windows? OMG this confuses me more than anything, first I asked at the apple store to blank stares basically saying why would you want to run windows on a mac? Then to read answers from yes use an OEM copy of windows pro full 7 it works fine to others saying it won't work, then others saying it "may" work but it's not legal ....

    What I want to know is what do I need to buy to install windows 7 pro on my soon to be new mac via parallels to make it work and be legal, I would like to also know is there a version or how does it work if i wanted to load it in bootcamp and in parallels (do I need 2 copies of windows)?

    So sorry for all this stuff that is probably so easy, but I have been googling and reading and using the search function of mac forums and i guess that's why i am so confused because depending on what or where you read the info is conflicting!

  2. thatdrewguy macrumors regular

    Mar 14, 2009
    Just buy the win7 64 bit version, home premium unless you need what's in the professional package. Save some money and buy the system builder version, worked for me.

    Create a bootcamp partition and install win7 and you are done. If you ever decide to use parallels or fusion, install the application and it uses the same win7 install from bootcamp, you don't need another copy, another license, or anything.

    With a SSD the win7 boots up so fast I doubt I'd ever plan to use parallels or fusion.
  3. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    do not worry - an Apple Mac is the best windows platform. There is a performance hit when you use Parallels but in worst case scenario you can alqways laod up windows natively. "Boot Camp" is a confusing name, basically it has two purposes: 1) if you decide to keep OS X then OS X needs a GUID partition scheme and windows needs a MBR partittion scheme. Boot Camp takes care of this however make sure that you do not change the partition size afterwards with third party tools because that's when problems start to happen. If you wipe the whole hard disk and load up windows then you use Boot Camp to load all the specific drivers into windows that windows need to run on the Apple Mac platform.

    (I have done this - am running OS X (MAC) from an external HDD and using the internal dedicated to Windows).

    Unless you are working in an office environment I would suggest that there is no need to get anything more than Windows 7 Home Premium. (Professional and Ultimate are more for networking in an office environment with the ability to back up over a network)

    The Mac Mini is a wonderfull machine, I have to strain to hear it. It is quieter than my laptop (at the time the flagship of Lenovo and a powerhouse plus the quietest laptop they made, a Thinkpad T61p).

    PS my son has an iMac and he does not like the loud fans, the noisy hard disk and the glossy screen. I bought mine nearly a year after he got his and could not be happier.

    Enjoy your Mac.
  4. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
  5. Hyper-X macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2011
    I disagree, don't take this the wrong way but I feel the same way with Hackintosh machines as well. For a business power-user, using a Mac for Windows can be extremely frustrating (due to Mac hardware limitations, and/or issues relating to Bootcamp). I'd never ditch my HP Elitebook 8760w or any of my Thinkpads. If you're a serious gamer... well let's leave that part out since the OP says that's not an issue.

    I'm going to downplay the differences by going over the basic of the basics.

    - bootcamp allows your machine to use all of its available resources to Windows. So if your Mac has 4GB of system RAM, all 4GB will be used for Bootcamp, which is great if you intend on using Windows apps which require a lot of resources.

    - VM's (like Parallels) share memory with OS X. If you set Windows to use 1GB of RAM and you have 4GB installed in your Mac, OS X gets 3GB to use. This is why if you intend on using 64bit versions of Windows, I recommend that you start considering installing more RAM. 64bit OS's generally speaking, have almost double the requirements of their 32bit counterparts.

    - Bootcamp requires partitioning (separating/dedicating) a portion of your hard drive for the Windows installation.

    - Bootcamp will only work with Windows and only certain versions for it based on which version of OS X you're using. VM software allows you to use almost any other OS you want.

    - VM's are treated as files, you can set the size to 40GB for example, it can be all dedicated to the VM or you can set it up as Dynamic, which means the size of the VM can grow as it needs. As such you can move, copy and delete VM's, something not easy to do with Bootcamp.

    - VM's allow you to interact with Windows and OS X at the same time.
  6. rowley, Aug 8, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011

    rowley macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2008
    London, UK
    I would use parallels personally, if/when you make the transition over to mac, it's then just a case of not using windows.

    I don't think you'll need new software - if your PC came with original disks and COA, then use that when building your windows OS image on parallels.

    I've heard, that the new Mac OS (lion, as we all know) only supports Win7 with bootcamp, so I suppose it all depends on what you have on your popped PC

  7. FTLOSM thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    Thanks for the input guys, I really appreciate it, heading into the apple store today it's been a toss up between the mbp 17 and the imac 27 but for now the desktop won the battle, if I love this as much as I think I will get the mbp later (and buy another copy of windows for it too).

    I will be adding ram to the imac 27 once I get it, just didn't want to pay the apple price honestly and the retail store doesn't carry much beyond the basic configurations of 4gb stock altho I do believe they can add ram in store id rather just do that myself and save the $ but it is planned.

    My dead pc had windows xp pro on it, i was going to upgrade to oem windows 7 pro 64 bit full not upgrade version (i read pro had a few features that allowed older xp based programs to still run) and since i was coming from xp and do have alot of older smaller programs that I am just "used to" and "know well" I figured win7pro would be the best choice in case they didn't load in win7 home.

    My plan is to get the apple osx and just DIVE in and start learning and exploring other options so down the road I might not even use the windows side much, but for now being without a main computer for almost 3 weeks now (besides this 11 yr old laptop i use for email and such), I do need to be able to do a few things in windows pretty quickly after buying the apple.

    Bill :)
  8. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    I found the backup / recovery of a shared OS X - Windows internal HDD the most frustrating part. Going to dedicating the internal HDD to windows solved this. (many problems can be traced to having a "hybrid hdd", OS X requiring the GUID partitioning scheme and Windows the MBR partitoning scheme)

    Boot Camp only serves two parts: one to do the partitioning (not an issue if internal hdd is dedicated to windows) and the second part is providing all the windows drivers. Unfortunately boot camp's update (3.1, 3.2, 4.0) drivers do not uninstall previous versions of same drivers and this has the potential for conflicts (resulting in erratic behavior).

    As such the mac is no different from a "normal" windows machine.
  9. FTLOSM, Aug 8, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011

    FTLOSM thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    at the apple store they didnt have much beyond the base options in stock, so i came home got on the phone and internet and zapped an order together with the help of a small business agent, i ended up maxing it out in many areas except ram where I will add that down the road myself.

    So i got the imac 27 with 3.4 ghz, 4mb ram, 2 tb 7200 and 256 ssd, amd graphics with 2g mem, trackpad and full numb keyboard, and dont forget the remote and applecare.

    Didn't like my total but they did give me a discount for small business think it was 5% and free shipping, nothing to scream about but helps a hair i guess.

    My thought is they load the mac os on the ssd right? When i do bootcamp can i partition the 2tb drive (say giving 300gb to windows 7) and install windows there or does it have to go on the ssd? I realize the ssd will give more speed if I partitioned that for osx and win7 split, but I also remember on my old pc my windows partition at 250gb was getting clogged up with stuff after a few years with many default add-ons/files etc.

    Said it will be here by the 18th we will see, hopefullly early!

    So to run windows via at least bootcamp on this new mac this is what I was going to order is this correct?
    Windows 7 oem professional

  10. balamw, Aug 8, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011

    balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    There is a third part of Boot Camp which is the firmware extensions that allow your Mac to boot "legacy" OSes from MBR partitioned discs. Since late 2006 all Macs have shipped with this pre-installed though.

    That will work, but the validity of the license for your Mac is questionable. Read this thread if you care:

    TL;DR make sure you at least read and understand the disclaimer from the NewEgg Details page:

  11. Hyper-X macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2011
    Odd. I have no issues with backup/recovery on my MBP, what backup/recovery processes have you tried? I have a working image of my entire MBP HDD for a baseline install and routine backups of all my working files and folders without any issue. This includes all VM's on the native HDD and on my EXT drives, however I do use a NAS and have set it up to do backup and recovery in 3 mouse clicks.

    You can backup OS X entirely, or by portion, with or without the VM's on the drive, or backup separately for OS X and the VM image file(s).
  12. FTLOSM thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 7, 2011
    my imac will be here on or around the 16th, i did the 2tb drive and the 256ssd drive, if i install my windows 7 pro oem on the ssd with the osx, what partition size should i do (split in half 128 osx/ 128 win7)?

    Or can/should I just choose a small portion of the 2tb (say 300gb) and install windows via bootcamp to the 7200rpm drive instead?

    If this oem version doesn't work for me (still confused some say do it some say dont) do i just need to buy the full retail version to get it to work?

    This is my first mac and first time with bootcamp etc, I would assume make sure the osx and whatnot are all fully updated before running bootcamp anything else I need to do before installing windows on the imac?
  13. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Reread my post above. The generic OEM version from NewEgg will work, as will retail upgrade, as will full retail. The only one Apple supports and Boot Camp Assistant will recognize on its own of those three is full retail. It is also the only one that is unquestionably licensable on a Mac by an end user.

    Only you can decide if you comply with all of the license restrictions, limitations, etc... Read the disclaimer I quoted above and the licenses and make up your mind.

    The partition locations and sizes are up to your needs/uses, and yes, make sure you update OS X completely before doing anything. Never hurts to have a good backup either. Time Machine or CCC/SuperDuper.

  14. Maxi86 macrumors regular

    Sep 24, 2010
    This is interesting... since I have a hybrid HDD myself.
    Or actually I got a third partition in exFAT which is readable and writable from both OS'es...

    Luckily I still haven't had the need to recover anything, knock on wood.
    But I'm also confused on how to properly back-up...

    Currently I've Mac OS X Lion backupped via Time Machine on an external HDD, but I'm not sure what to do with the Windows 7/Boot Camp part...
    Should I create an image from the Mac side (using Carbon Copy Cloner) or login to Windows and make a back-up the 'normal' way...

    Let alone the third partition... is that even possible?

    @MJL Could u please tell me more about your experience with your setup? Is it stable and easy to switch OS'es? And do you have your whole 1TB internal HDD dedicated to Windows 7? Or also made partitions like I mentioned above?
  15. DonCarlos macrumors regular


    Dec 14, 2009
    Las Vegas

    It's your preference what to do, but this has worked for me.Because just as I like to keep Mac and W7 on a separate platform (no virtual stuff, just Bootcamp) I like to keep the backups on partitioned external. I partitioned my LaCie external, HFS+ and NTSF.

    -HFS+ Mac Backup using Time Machine and also downloaded this free editor to only do backups when I say so or every month, that saves on filling up your external.

    -NTSF I backup using the W7 backup/image system found in W7.

    BTW I recently used the W7 backup to restore my W7 image after I had to delete Windows to install Lion, so it's great to back it up that way using the built in tool that W7 has.

    Hope some of this information helps.
  16. jvansyckle macrumors newbie

    May 23, 2010
    After 20+ years as a PC . . .

    I switched to Mac about 2 years ago and will never goi back . . . Unless Jobs becomes even more unbearably Megalomaniacal. In fact just received a new iMac 27" yesterday.
  17. Quad5Ny, Aug 12, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2011

    Quad5Ny macrumors 6502a


    Sep 13, 2009
    New York, USA
    A Mac is for the most part just a PC. Boot Camp is for the most part a package of drivers for Windows (there are other things it does like emulating a BIOS and creating a Hybrid MBR, but it only does that because Apple's EFI implementation is lacking). If you wanted to you could actually erase OS X and only install Windows.

    All that being said, I think for now you should install Windows onto part of your 2TB drive and let OS X have the 256GB SSD. You can either do this through Boot Camp or Parallels (or both).

    • For Boot Camp there is a file called Boot Camp Assistant in the Applications folder. You follow it's instructions and point it to your 2TB drive (it will give you a option to split it to use whatever size you see fit with Windows).
    • For Parallels you would choose the virtual Hard Drive save location to be on your 2TB drive (when creating the virtual HD I recommend a fixed size instead of 'Dynamically Expanding' for performance reasons).
    • For Both you would first setup a Boot Camped Windows install and then Point Parallels to the Boot Camp partition (if you do this remember to always shutdown Windows completely before switching between the two; do not switch while paused/hibernated).


    One of my posts earlier trying to explain OEM Windows 7:

    And remember the best part about owning a Apple product is the support they provide. If you ever have a problem you can always give Apple a call or visit a Apple Retail store. For the most part they do their best to make their users happy.
  18. MJL macrumors 6502a

    Jun 25, 2011
    I have switched to an Intel X25M G2 80 Gb internal SSD and this has a single Windows 48 Gb installation. The rest is free space and Intel calls this "over-provisioning" This has two advantages: it increases performance about 5 fold and it increases life expectancy about 5 fold.

    External (at present) the old internal HDD with OS X.

    To boot in the "default" OS nothing has to be done while booting. In windows this can be changed by going to the system tray and in BootCamp select OS X as startup disk and in OS X this can be changed in System preferences startup. Another option is when the startup chime happens to hold down the option key and then manually select which OS you want.

    I have experimented a lot with various disaster scenario's, including mains power being lost. It were the restores required as a result from these unexpected power outages (which are normally no problem when using a laptop) that created the problems. When using a hybrid disk afterwards I found it would sometimes recover seemingly succesfully, other times not and then afterwards had unexplainably programs crashing.

    Since it has been split it has been totally stable, even to the point that rebooting windows does a quick integrity check of its file system and then carries on like nothing has happened. Very satisfied with the stability.

    I primarily use Windows (during the week) and tried initally to install windows on an external HDD but failed. According to information I got windows does not like to boot from an external drive and it never showed up when I pressed the option key. (could not install so used a drive that was imaged from a working Windows installation)

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