I have a Garmin GPS device that only works with Microsoft Windows. Fortunately the Boot Camp software supplied by Apple allows installing Windows on my new MacBook Pro portable computer. I thought it would be an easy task. But that would be wrong.
Originally I had decided to install Windows XP Home Edition with SP2 (that’s a mouthful!) With my legal authorization code from an old copy of Windows XP, I figured that it would be no problem as long as I had an SP2 disk. A couple of times Ruben brought over some disks of questionable origin to try, but none seemed to be authentic enough to allow installation. So I was forced to buy a new copy of Windows. Prices being cheaper in the US delayed my purchase until I arrived in California.
After checking prices I found that Windows Vista Home Edition Basic was actually cheaper than Windows XP, so I ordered a copy from Amazon.com and waited a week and a half for it to arrive.
I was excited once I had the Vista DVD in my hot little hands. Sure enough my Mac recognized the disk as being “authentic”. It took about an hour to install Vista and then another 10 minutes to install the Boot Camp drivers. It worked, sort of. But I could tell that not all of the Mac drivers were actually installed.I couldn’t do some things, like connect to the Internet, or use the “function keys” on the keyboard, or hear any audio.
So I tried reinstalling Vista repeating the process all over. The second time the installer recognized the existing copy. It wouldn’t let me treat the hard disk as being “empty”. An hour later, same results.
Third time around I decided to erase the Windows hard disk partition from the Mac side and start from scratch. This time when I tried the Windows installation disk, it wasn’t recognized at all. I was just greeted with a blinking dash in the upper-left of the screen. This was the low point of the whole exercise.
I decided to “zap” the PRAM to see if that would fix the problem. Sure enough, when I tried to load the Vista disk it was recognized and I was able to install Windows as before with the same results. Sigh.
I looked at the Apple on-line support, which proved fruitless. Next I googled and found someone else that had the same problem. A new MacBook Pro using a generic Mac OS X DVD and not having all the drivers being loaded into Windows. When he used the DVD that came with the laptop, everything installed correctly. So I quickly made an 8 am appointment at the Genius Bar at the Emeryville Apple Store.
The next morning I explained the problem to the “genius” and he went looking for an install DVD or an on-line image. But he couldn’t find either. At that point I was resigned to waiting until I was back in Barcelona before I had a fully functional PC. But this story has a happy ending.
The next day I took the train to Sacramento to see my daughter in Folsom. While she was out doing errands I found that Apple had released new versions of the Boot Camp drivers. So I downloaded the 228 MB “.exe” file and copied it to a USB flash drive. I rebooted Vista and ran the file not knowing what to expect. It claimed that the install was successful, but I had seen that message before.
As I was restarting my laptop there was a faint “click”, which lead me to believe that audio was working. Then I heard the Vista “welcome music”. It was the best music I had heard all day. After I logged in, I checked to make sure my keyboard was working, and it was. I was able to use Wifi with no problems. So everything seemed to be working and I was a happy camper.
I spent the next hour downloading hundreds of megabytes of updates. I hope that’s not an indication what to expect.