Looks like the new Intel Macs may be able to run Windows after all - Macenstein

Looks like the new Intel Macs may be able to run Windows after all

Posted by Lab Rat

Ever since Apple announced their planned switch to Intel processors last year, there has been rampant speculation among the geekier segment of our Mac community about whether users could use a new Intel Mac as a dual boot system, thus allowing them to run both the Mac OS and Windows on the same machine.

Recently, there have been reports claiming that the outlook is not good. Many people claimed that since the new Intel Macs use EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) to boot instead of the standard PC BIOS, this would be an impossibility as Windows XP does not support EFI as of yet.

Macenstein reader Bill Gates pointed us to an article over at CDRinfo dated December, 2003, which mentions that Gateway has had EFI-based systems for sale since November of 2003 (and yes, they run XP).

In fact, a review on ZDNet points out that the Windows XP Media Center Edition has been running just fine on the Gateway 610 series Media Center (which uses EFI ) for over 2 years.

While we certainly make no claim to know more than the brainiacs over at Ars Technica , these other articles seem to imply that XP might be running on EFI as we speak. Ars is claiming the Intel Macs are merely 32-bit machines, and XP needs a 64-bit machine to run on EFI. The Gateways seem to be regular old Pentium 4’s, however. As I said, I do not profess to know all the differences here, and Ars is likely somehow right, so feel free (as you always do, dear readers) to correct me if I am indeed wrong.

For Apple’s part, Phil Schiller has publicly said Apple will do nothing to stop customers from attempting to run Windows on an Intel Mac, although the underlying message is don’t look for any help either.

With the new Intel iMacvs now shipping, I’m sure we’ll have an answer next week.

10 Responses to “Looks like the new Intel Macs may be able to run Windows after all”
  1. Sean Bryant says:

    EFI has a Compatibily Module.
    No one knows if Apple included it.

  2. Jan says:

    I don’t think EFI will be the major issue. It can emulate a pc bios with a Compatibility Module. I think the problem is the partioning map. OS X will use GPT style partition maps. Windows XP needs MBR to boot.

  3. Chris says:

    Why not have one OS on one HD and another OS on a diff HD?

  4. Aaron says:

    Having two operating systems on two hard drives might be difficult in the MacBook Pro (laptop) or iMac (no room for a second hard drive internally). If you want to run it off an external Firewire drive… but has anyone found out for sure if these computers will boot from Firewire?

  5. Dzign says:

    Intel-based Macs: Booting from FireWire hard drives possible

  6. zimflicker says:

    Will Windows Vista have EFI support?

  7. I’ve read “yes”.
    But does anyone know if dual boots only work off 2 different “physical” drives, or can you partition one drive and still do it?

    If it won’t work off partitions, then you are pretty much relegated to the new PowerMac(or whatever it will be called) for dual boots.

    I heard external firewire drives might allow for boot though.

  8. Troy says:

    Microsoft have announce that Vista will support EFI, so who cares if XP won’t work.

  9. John says:

    Most likely you’d need to use a third-party partition application. EFI supposedly removes the need for a MBR. I believe I read that as one of the benefits of EFI over AT/BIOS.

    It might get a little difficult in the area of selecting which operating system to start up. Apple’s OS has always used the start up preference pane. Windows has always used some sub OS application. Neither is likely to be compatible with the other.

    Luckily you know longer have to know assembly to write for EFI. I’m sure there is a company out there with an Intel Mac and Longhorn beta working on this.

  10. Windows does not currently work on the Intel iMac. I tried:

    Windows XP x64
    Windows XP IA64 (which should support EFI and GTP)
    Windows Server 2003 R2
    Windows Vista Beta 1 (which should support EFI and GTP)
    Windows Vista CTP December 2005 (which should support EFI and GTP)

    It is indeed the GTP support that is needed and Windows XP can only read GTP disks it cannot boot from them.

    If the compatibility module was there you’d need some secret command to get the firmware to enable it.

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