UPDATE: I’ve solved my issues click the “Continue reading” link.
I’m sure you saw the news of Apple releasing the Windows bootloader Boot Camp yesterday. My current desktop machine is a Core Duo Mac mini so I figured I’d give it a shot (so I could run four folding threads, naturally). I downloaded the Boot Camp package and upgraded the mini’s firmware. The first thing the Boot Camp install assistant does is burn a driver disc for use after the XP install is complete. Once this is done it shrinks the HFS+ partition and creates an empty partition for Windows. It then asks you to insert the XP install disk (must have SP2). The Windows install proceeded normally and Windows booted. This is where my trouble began: the drivers didn’t apply cleanly. I could have retried but for one serious problem. To get the initial boot device selection screen to appear you have to hold down the “alt” key while the machine is starting. The only USB keyboard I have is a Gyration wireless one. The boot menu only showed up at best 1 in 10 attempts. Apple does provide software to choose which OS you want to boot by default, but since the Windows drivers didn’t install there was no guarantee I could flip the switch back to OS X once I was in XP. I decided the flaky “alt” key detection was probably my wireless keyboard not being fully initialized, so I made a late night run to the Megalomart to buy the cheapest wired USB keyboard they had. I plugged it in and tried to bring up the boot menu; it didn’t work a single time. So, my experiment is over for now since I don’t want to get trapped in XP. Hopefully they fix this public beta so that is has an actual boot menu, with a countdown, like every other bootloader. UNEASYsilence has a video of how this install should go.
UPDATE: I found an Apple keyboard and now the “alt” key works every time. So with the confidence that I could always bring up the boot menu and return from XP, I proceeded with the XP boot. This time the drivers installed without a hitch. That includes the “startup disk” control panel. It wasn’t installed before which is why I needed reliable “alt” access to the boot menu. I doubt many people will find themselves in my situation, but having an Apple keyboard on hand is a good idea.
Now that I’ve got Windows going, anybody have a killer app for what XP can do on Apple hardware that OS X can’t (besides run Windows applications)? Here’s a few that I can think of: Update the firmware of a Windows format iPod (I kept it Windows format so I could read it on any computer), run native Folding@Home cores (no cores for Intel Macs yet only PPC on top of Rosetta), Bluetooth A2DP (OS X doesn’t support stereo Bluetooth headphones). Yes, I posted this from Windows.