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Running Windows 7 on a MacBook Air using Boot Camp

In previous posts, I talked about some of the annoying issues I’ve had with trying to use a MacBook Air due to its sleep issues.

However, besides the sleep stuff, the main issue I’ve run into is that it is hard to try and ‘replace’ my main development machine due to the lack of memory you can get installed on an MBA.  4 GB max, which means 2 GB (more or less) for Windows 7.  For normal non-development work, 2 GB would actually be fine, but I tend to like to have multiple Visual Studio instances open, 30-50 browser tabs open across multiple windows, etc.

<digression>It can’t ever (for the foreseeable future) actually replace my three 23”+ monitors and 12 core/16 GB ram (or the reverse, I forget) on my Dell Dimension whatever, but the MBA has a significant advantage…I can’t carry the Dell.</digression>

While I’m still not sure if this will address the sleep issues (since I just made the change), after reading a post via Daring Fireball, I decided to try out BootCamp as an alternative to my Parallels install, as that would give me full access to all of the hardware.

This isn’t intended to be a tutorial on how to do it, but there a couple of points to mention:

  • You need to have a Super Drive to burn a CD/DVD with all of the support drivers, etc.
  • You first repartition your HD to have a separate one for the Windows install
  • When you first boot into Windows, almost nothing works.  This is what the support disc is for.
  • Largely due to the SSD (I think), my overall install process (which involves installing Office 2010, VS 2010, SQL 2008, and other stuff) takes a day or so.  Which is pretty fast.
  • For unknown reasons, the ‘one tap’ trackpad features are turned off by default.  I was really bummed out (technical term) when it didn’t work initially after the install until I looked into the Control Panel/Boot Camp options and was able to turn them on.  Even still, there is some increased sensitivity when typing to jump to where the mouse is (I remember this from my first MBA, which seemed to have disappeared).

Other than that, so far, the additional memory has made my working experience (actual coding and whatnot) much closer to what I would like.

It will be interesting to see if the sleep issues go away.  I’m guessing not, since the hardware is still the same.

Using Boot Camp, you lose the nice integration of Windows and OSX, but since I don’t use OSX itself much, I think I can live with it.

posted on Sunday, February 12, 2012 7:37 PM Print
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