Apple Embraces Windows XP With Boot Camp

Over the past few days, Infinite Loop has been following developments which seemed to indicate that a workable solution for installing Windows XP on Apple’s Intel-based computers had been developed. Reactions were, at first, mixed. Most people, jaded by months of fakery on just about every hot Apple rumor imaginable, dismissed the solution out of hand, but those who had been following the progress of the author of this particular hack were fairly confident that he had sealed the deal.

For those unaware, a website titled Windows XP on Mac has been collecting a pool of donations for anyone who could successfully boot Windows XP on an unmodified Intel Mac. The pool grew slowly at first, but as the news of the contest spread, it passed the US$13,000 mark. The first hint that “narf” may have figured it out came in the form of a set of photos on Flickr that seemed to show Windows XP on an iMac of some sort. Next came the videos and an acknowledgement from the contest administrators that a solution had been submitted. And finally, this morning, announced that a proposed solution had been found and had been tested successfully. The contest had been won, and it looks like “narf” is about to almost US$14,000 richer.

The WindowsXP on Mac website has now posted the solution developed by Narf. It is fairly complicated and will probably be a little difficult for novice users to get a handle on, but I’m certain that an easier, more accessible way to deploy this will become available in a relatively short amount of time. The only downfall that I can see is that you’ll need a PC to complete the process, which defeats the purpose of this exercise for a portion of the people who’ve been anticipating this solution. From the howto.txt:

A custom slipstreamed CD is required to install XP on a Mac.

What you’ll need

* An original XP PRO SP2 CDROM It doesn’t have to be bootable, but it should have a I386 directory on the root.

* The file.
* Nero Burning ROM
* A blank CD
* A PC of course…
* 20-30 minutes

The instructions lay out the entire process in an abbreviated manner for those users who are more adept at performing “advanced” tasks like repartitioning drives and such, and in a more basic, step-by-step manner for users who might be slightly intimidated by the exercise. When you get down to it, you’re creating a custom XP bootdisk, with some of the Microsoft files replaced with patched files created by narf. The files modified/added in the i386 folder are:

* iaStor.sys

In addition there are several files being replaced and/or added in the $OEM$ directory:

* $$/system32/drivers/xomdd.sys
* $1/drivers/iastor/
* $1/drivers/iastor/iaahci.inf
* $1/drivers/iastor/
* $1/drivers/iastor/iaStor.sys
* $1/drivers/iastor/TXTSETUP.OEM

The final 5 items are replicated in the $OEM$/TEXTMODE directory. Once you’ve developed this custom Windows XP bootdisk, you’re going to have to repartition your iMac’s disk to contain both HFS+ and NTFS partitions, which for most people, means you’re probably going to have to blow away your current install. Mac OS X will be installed to an HFS+ partition and you’ll be installing an xom.efi bootloader which will then allow you to install Windows XP from your new disc.

At this point you’re more or less dealing with a situation no different than your run-of-the-mill budget PC. The implications of this method of installing Windows XP onto any Apple Mac are exciting, to say the least. Anyone with a little know-how is going to be able to dual boot their machines and have access to a world of applications not yet available on their OS of choice. For most people that means they’ll be playing EVE Online on their iMacs and for others, they’ll finally be able to run a modern PSPICE application on their Mac mini. Apple computers are now the first machines on which you can boot all three major operating systems without (potentially) violating anyone’s EULA (it’s not yet clear whether or not modifying the Windows XP boot CD is technically legal or not). What is for certain is that a more user-friendly manner of getting Windows XP onto Apple’s Intel computers is going to arise from narf’s implementation, and in my opinion, it will be a net benefit for everyone involved.

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