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Windows 10 v2004 installation on MacBook (12-inch, Retina, 2017) without macOS Installed

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 20, 2010
3,733
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Los Angeles, CA
I have a 2017 12" Retina MacBook. I'm trying to install Windows 10 v2004 on it using a USB drive I have (made using the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool). I want Windows 10 to be the sole OS on this Mac (my purpose for this Mac is to run beta releases of macOS in the summer and be solely running Windows 10 at all other times of the year). When I boot from said USB drive, I get a really tiny window for the installation window (likely a byproduct of the 12" Retina display running at its actual resolution due to not having drivers at that point in time). This is not an issue. However, I've noticed that I get no mouse cursor and the keyboard is not responsive at all.

I was figuring that I could just install Windows 10 and then download and install the Boot Camp package after the fact. Also that, given that this isn't a T2 Mac, I wouldn't ONLY be able to install Windows 10 via the Boot Camp Assistant. Is this not the case?

I suppose I can install macOS onto an external drive, boot from said external drive, run Boot Camp Assistant, boot from the Windows installer that way, and then just target and wipe the internal drive. But do I have to do it that way if I want the entire drive devoted to Windows 10?
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 20, 2010
3,733
842
Los Angeles, CA
Alright, so I got past this particular issue. The cause: the Windows 10 v2004 bootable installer environment (Windows PE) doesn't have drivers for either the keyboard or Apple's trackpad, which is odd. Though I suppose I can chalk that up to how highly miniaturized the 12" MacBook logic boards are (and how much consolidation of on-board devices Apple probably had to do from the standpoint of that logic board). A USB Hub and a proper keyboard and mouse solved all of that.

However, I'm now stuck on a subsequent problem: The Windows 10 installer can't seem to see the internal SSD. I'm able to remedy this briefly (enough so that I can see and wipe the partitions on the drive) by loading the AppleSSD driver from the Windows PE folder on the downloaded "Support Software". However, following that, once I start the actual install, I immediately get an error that says "Windows could not prepare the computer to boot into the next phase of installation". I'd have thought that by loading the driver into the install, that it would, subsequently load it onto the version of Windows being installed, though this seems to not be the case.

Has anyone had this particular issue before?

Again, the sole purpose of this 12" MacBook is to run macOS betas in the summer (or summer and fall in the case of 2020) and semi-annual-channel release Windows 10 Pro as the sole OS at all other times of the year. I know the T2 Macs pose legitimate difficulty in doing it this way, but being as this Mac is pre-T2, I would've thought that I wouldn't have had difficulty in doing this and that it'd be like every other Mac I've done this kind of Windows installation with.
 

robotica

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2007
746
715
Edinburgh
You need the boot camp drivers on a separate usb stick.
point the windows installation to the ssd driver in the boot camp folder when it gives you the option to select a driver at the hard drive selection page on the windows 10 installer.
Hope this helps.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 20, 2010
3,733
842
Los Angeles, CA
You need the boot camp drivers on a separate usb stick.
point the windows installation to the ssd driver in the boot camp folder when it gives you the option to select a driver at the hard drive selection page on the windows 10 installer.
Hope this helps.
I did that and I was able to target/wipe/choose partitions. But thereafter, I got the aforementioned error still (as though it only used the driver in the installer and not its payload). Do I need to manually install from the command line and then inject the driver using DISM? That's something I haven't tried yet, but I figured there had to be an easier way of doing it. Is there a second driver for the SSD that's not in the Windows PE folder that I should be using? I figured it'd be the same driver (as Windows PE usually shares the same underlying OS as the Windows OS it's based on).
 

robotica

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2007
746
715
Edinburgh
You shouldn’t have to do that. Something that is worth trying would be to install Mac OS then start the bootcamp installation on Mac OS, then during the reboot to install bootcamp, hold down command and start your installation from the windows installer usb, do the boot camp driver thing to get the ssd to show and then delete the Mac partitions and install that way. This should work and it’s what I had to do to get my single boot windows 10 installation on one of my 2018 T2 Mac mini’s. I believe there is something going on in the background at the bios level which makes it difficult to install windows 10 solo without tricking it into thinking you are installing bootcamp.
Saying all that, once installed everything works perfectly.
 

robotica

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2007
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715
Edinburgh
Oh and the driver is is in a folder buried somewhere in the bootcamp downloads. It’s not hidden though, so should be easy to see. It’s in a folder named apple ssd if I remember correctly.
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 20, 2010
3,733
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Los Angeles, CA
You shouldn’t have to do that. Something that is worth trying would be to install Mac OS then start the bootcamp installation on Mac OS, then during the reboot to install bootcamp, hold down command and start your installation from the windows installer usb, do the boot camp driver thing to get the ssd to show and then delete the Mac partitions and install that way. This should work and it’s what I had to do to get my single boot windows 10 installation on one of my 2018 T2 Mac mini’s. I believe there is something going on in the background at the bios level which makes it difficult to install windows 10 solo without tricking it into thinking you are installing bootcamp.
Saying all that, once installed everything works perfectly.

So, let me get this straight: my order of operations are:

1. Start Boot Camp installation on macOS (presumably installed on the internal drive [does it matter which version of macOS I use? Or should Big Sur work fine? {really, I'm asking if I can be lazy and just use Internet Recovery :p }], yeah?). This will, presumably, make the hidden partition with the Windows installer on it as well as slice my drive up a la typical Boot Camp

2. When it reboots, option boot to my USB drive (instead of the installer they put in the hidden partition)

3. Load the Driver from the PE drivers folder as before

4. Wipe all of the partitions currently on the internal (as attempted before)

5. Proceed with the installation (as attempted before)

...and it should work?

I owe you a beer and a steak dinner if that works.

Also way awesome that you got this to work on a T2 Mac! I posed the question of how to do that on a T2 Mac before in these forums and didn't get any useful responses.

The fact that you're able to single-boot Windows 10 on a T2 Mac is highly encouraging for that post-Intel future that remaining Intel Macs will inevitably be living in.

Oh and the driver is is in a folder buried somewhere in the bootcamp downloads. It’s not hidden though, so should be easy to see. It’s in a folder named apple ssd if I remember correctly.
The only one I found was in a PE Drivers folder. When I load that one, the installer can then see (and clear) internal drives, but that's about it. Installer fails and DISKPART acts super screwy with it.
 

robotica

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2007
746
715
Edinburgh
I just checked my bootcamp driver folder and yeah the one you are looking for is in the WinPEDriver folder in the AppleSSD folder. So you were using the right one. I would say install Big Sur as there might be a firmware update in there, I am assuming you haven’t installed that yet. Download the latest bootcamp drivers as well. Personally I would also install the latest version of windows 10. Install macOS then do that bootcamp setup as you would normally including partitioning (doesn’t matter what you do as you will be deleting them)

One more thing I did which I didn’t mention as I am not sure if it actually had any effect was I kept the top root partition which was a tiny eufi partition. Not sure if you should delete that one. I did this a while ago. But I kept it and it’s been working perfect.

All your steps are right! Remember to install the bootcamp drivers fully once you’ve installed it and you won’t need an external keyboard and mouse (this almost goes without saying...haha)

Yeah I was pretty happy about getting this working on the T2 mini. It give the machine more options in the future. I would have just dual booted but this mini only has 128GB storage so wanted all or nothing! I am sure you understand :)

No problem at all, just make sure you let me know how you got on. I am sure this will work for you. :)
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 20, 2010
3,733
842
Los Angeles, CA
I just checked my bootcamp driver folder and yeah the one you are looking for is in the WinPEDriver folder in the AppleSSD folder. So you were using the right one. I would say install Big Sur as there might be a firmware update in there, I am assuming you haven’t installed that yet.

Nope, I was running the Big Sur public beta until the 11.1 public beta came out (as by that point 11.0.1 was public and most of the fun of beta testing had passed). I initially wiped and reinstalled the retail version of 11.0.1 and used that to download the support software to a thumb drive (via a dongle of course). So, in theory, it should be current on firmware updates.

Download the latest bootcamp drivers as well. Personally I would also install the latest version of windows 10. Install macOS then do that bootcamp setup as you would normally including partitioning (doesn’t matter what you do as you will be deleting them)

The thumb drive has v2004 on it. I was stupid and didn't use the media creation tool to download an ISO to have as a back-up, so I had to download v20H2.

Now, are you saying it doesn't matter which Windows 10 version I use for the initial Boot Camp process? Or are you saying it doesn't matter which Windows 10 I use for install? Or are you saying it doesn't matter how I split the internal drive seeing as I'll blow it all away when booting to the thumb drive?

You really think Windows 10 v2004 isn't new enough? I just haven't gotten around to making a thumb drive install for v20H2 and would prefer to wait another month or two for more of the initial glitches to be worked out before deploying it to all of my PCs (including this MacBook, which is, seasonally, one of them)

One more thing I did which I didn’t mention as I am not sure if it actually had any effect was I kept the top root partition which was a tiny eufi partition. Not sure if you should delete that one. I did this a while ago. But I kept it and it’s been working perfect.

I did notice this partition when trying your way, and I kept it. Didn't seem to make a difference and it still seemed to fail. I'll detail what happened more specifically below.

All your steps are right! Remember to install the bootcamp drivers fully once you’ve installed it and you won’t need an external keyboard and mouse (this almost goes without saying...haha)

For sure. That much I know and am familiar with from pre-T2/pre-Apple-SSD/pre-2015 Mac Boot Camp installs. Apple seems to have made single-booting Windows on Macs progressively more difficult in the later Intel Era.

Yeah I was pretty happy about getting this working on the T2 mini. It give the machine more options in the future. I would have just dual booted but this mini only has 128GB storage so wanted all or nothing! I am sure you understand :)

Oh totally! 128GB is way not enough for two modern era OSes (hell, it's barely enough for one)! And it's fantastic that you're able to do this!

No problem at all, just make sure you let me know how you got on. I am sure this will work for you. :)

So, here's what I did. It didn't work, but my timing was crap. But I'll try it again.

1. Booted to Internet Recovery

2. Erased the drive back to being an APFS formatted drive with GUID

3. Installed Big Sur on it

4. Downloaded the ISO for Windows 10 v20H2 (as I have no other easy way of getting an ISO that matches my USB for v2004)

5. Ran the Boot Camp Assistant (which seemed to automatically find my 20H2 iso file); split the drive

Now, here's where I may have messed things up:

6. The Boot Camp Assistant auto-rebooted (which I wasn't exactly expecting); before I could Option-Boot and select my thumb drive, it was already booted to the 20H2 install partition that Boot Camp made

7. I hard shut down

8. Turned the computer back on; option booted to my v2004 USB drive

9. Blew away every partition other than the EFI partition; proceeded through as normal

10. Error in the same place.

Thoughts? I think you're on the right track with this; I might be missing something though. Again, I definitely owe you a beer and a steak dinner for all this.
 

pippox0

macrumors member
Jan 23, 2014
98
72
The only solution to install windows 10 on Mac without bootcamp is :

1) get a Windows pc ( use it to prepare win10 setup)
2) download and extract Mac drivers from bootcamp
3) slipstream ( merge windows10 iso with mac drivers)
4) finally boot windows10 usb setup ( after copy iso to usb)

Now your installation recognize all your hw
 

robotica

macrumors 6502a
Jul 10, 2007
746
715
Edinburgh
I think you have to do it on that initial reboot as I suspect turning it off and on again will mess with the macs settings for “bootcamp”.

Did you try it again? You could always try the slipstreaming method. I know my method works for T2 Macs but I don’t have any older machines to try it on. I assumed that this method would work with no issue!

As for windows 10 2004 I am sure you could have used that. I just like to install the most update one on mine.
 

IowaLynn

Contributor
Feb 22, 2015
1,804
428
Mac Intel Mini 2020 Big Sur using BootcampAssistant ti installing Windows 10 ISO dl from MS.

Even with Apple kb/mouse plugged in the mini's USB port for charging, they were not recognized-
By accident discovered the Trackpad 2 was! Only way I could click install until drivers were installed.

So now have dual boot working 16/512 i5
I traded in 12" MacBook for the mini (battery failed) but never tried Windows on it -
 

Yebubbleman

macrumors 68040
Original poster
May 20, 2010
3,733
842
Los Angeles, CA
The only solution to install windows 10 on Mac without bootcamp is :

1) get a Windows pc ( use it to prepare win10 setup)
2) download and extract Mac drivers from bootcamp
3) slipstream ( merge windows10 iso with mac drivers)
4) finally boot windows10 usb setup ( after copy iso to usb)

Now your installation recognize all your hw

I have zero trouble fresh installing Windows 10 without slipstreaming on an older Intel Mac. I get that with 2015 and newer the game changed a bit (and even again with the T2 Macs), but I don't know why merely loading the SSD driver during the installation isn't enough when that's the primary roadblock. (The rest of the drivers can just be installed afterwards, theoretically.)

The problem I have with the slimstream method is that the .iso file that you download for Windows 10 from Microsoft's site (not the Volume Licensing Portal) doesn't use an install.wim file, but rather an install.esd file and I've never had an easy go of using dism to slipstream to the latter file. I can view the indices and mount them just fine, but committing usually gives me an error. ISOs with the former, such as the 90-day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise, or media for Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise that came from the Volume Licensing portal, I have no trouble with. But I'm not a volume licensing customer and therefore only have the option of slipstreaming with the 90-day trial of Windows 10 Enterprise (which is an option I'll consider if that's all I have).


I think you have to do it on that initial reboot as I suspect turning it off and on again will mess with the macs settings for “bootcamp”.

Did you try it again? You could always try the slipstreaming method. I know my method works for T2 Macs but I don’t have any older machines to try it on. I assumed that this method would work with no issue!

As for windows 10 2004 I am sure you could have used that. I just like to install the most update one on mine.

I did try it again; this time my timing was fine. Still kept the EFI partition just in case. Still got the same error and still had issue. I'd try blowing the EFI partition away, but I can't fathom that'd change anything here.

I think what I might try doing is using an external drive; installing Big Sur on that, booting from said external drive and running the Boot Camp assistant from that (and therefore using it to boot). From there, I'd merely target the internal and away I go. I would think that this would accommodate any other drivers that I can't load from the installer. Plus it also accomplishes my side goal of being able to keep the MacBook's firmware current (as I can boot to it just to run updates that update the firmware) while it is exclusively on Windows.

If that doesn't work, I'll do further digging on slipstreaming using the Windows 10 ISO that Microsoft provides (as stated above, I've not had much luck with install.esd compared to the smooth ride I always get from slipstreaming with install.wim).

It's quite odd that you've had zero difficulty using your method using an actual T2 Mac whereas this MacBook is T2-free and therefore shouldn't have as pesky of a time dealing with the SSD driver and firmware.


Mac Intel Mini 2020 Big Sur using BootcampAssistant ti installing Windows 10 ISO dl from MS.

Even with Apple kb/mouse plugged in the mini's USB port for charging, they were not recognized-
By accident discovered the Trackpad 2 was! Only way I could click install until drivers were installed.

So now have dual boot working 16/512 i5
I traded in 12" MacBook for the mini (battery failed) but never tried Windows on it -
I'm a little confused by what you did as you have written it. Apologies. It sounds like your experience was similar as far as drivers are concerned to what I'm dealing with now.

It also sounds like Apple has started to make Boot Camping on later Intel Macs a bit more of a pain when attempting to do it outside of the Boot Camp Assistant itself.
 
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