Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

Summary: Apple designs some of the best PC hardware you can buy, and its designs use the same parts as a Windows PC. Yes, you can run Windows on a Mac, but the experience is substandard. For Windows 8, Microsoft needs to replace Apple's Boot Camp software with its own.

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My ZDNet colleagues have gone gaga over the 2011 MacBook Air. Christopher Dawson calls it “a pretty incredible computer.” James Kendrick says it “epitomizes what mobile computers should be” and will become his primary computer. After only a week, Zack Whittaker admits he has “fallen head over heels” with his.

Among Silicon Valley journalists, MacBooks are ubiquitous. Even in Redmond, I’m told, some senior Microsoft executives consider Macs the perfect hardware on which to run Windows.

And indeed, they’re right. Intel-based Macs—and the new MacBook Air in particular—are built from the same parts that make up a standard Windows PC. The trouble is, they don’t run Windows 7 all that well. For that, you can blame Apple’s Boot Camp software, which runs the machine’s disk subsystem in legacy IDE mode and installs a messy glop of generic drivers that leave much of the hardware’s performance untapped on Windows.

Later this year, when Microsoft gets around to releasing a beta of Windows 8, a lot of tech reviewers are going to want to try the new OS on Apple-branded hardware. If Microsoft is smart, they’ll make that easy. How? By writing their own version of Boot Camp to optimize the Windows 8 experience for the underlying hardware.

What would a Microsoft Boot Camp include?

  • It would boot natively from the Mac’s UEFI firmware. Windows 7 will not boot natively using UEFI on a current Macintosh, as dedicated Mac hackers have discovered. That can easily be fixed in Windows 8.
  • It would offer a versatile disk management utility and its own boot loader so you can choose whether to install Windows 8 alongside OS X (a la Boot Camp) or to wipe OS X and use Windows as the exclusive operating system.
  • It would install up-to-date drivers and utility software for the Apple hardware, including full Windows 8 gesture support for trackpads and other input devices.
  • It would include the full collection of Windows Live apps that connect to complementary Windows Live services (SkyDrive, in particular) when you sign in with a Windows Live ID.

A clean installation of Windows 8 on modern Apple hardware would be an ideal showcase for Windows 8 and an ideal test bed to compare Windows 8 performance with that of OS X Lion—something that no one has been able to do until now. And with no crapw… sorry, I mean, with no third-party software, Windows users would finally have a standard against which to compare the performance of designs from other OEMs.

I know Microsoft is capable of delivering its own Boot Camp. Hell, some of their best engineers would probably kill for the opportunity to work on this project.

If this option were available, I’d probably buy a MacBook Air and run Windows 8 on it. How about you?

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Topics: Operating Systems, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Software, Windows

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204 comments
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  • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

    Or they could buy HP's PC division, and build their own PCs
    pedroroque
    • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

      @pedroroque Or they could do both. Win on an MBA would be great.
      IAmMarty
      • They're not going to do either ...

        @IAmMarty Microsoft will never become a PC manufacturing company. Why would they obliterate their business model, alienate all of their OEMs and risk regulatory nightmares in order to be saddled with a low-margin hardware business?

        Making Windows run better on Apple hardware is probably not very high on MS' list of priorities. Anything that makes someone hesitate from buying a Mac is probably a good thing in their eyes.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @RationalGuy Well, maybe they should reconsider. When you think about it, it is not in Apple's best interest that Windows runs well on their machine. Apple fans with an itch to check Windows without having to buy a PC (via old license or work) may be turned off by the decreased efficiency/performance of their Apple system under Windows and not realize it is because of generic drivers.

        If MS on the other hand would resolve this they could show equivalent or better performance and maybe gain a future costumer (or at least become more of a contender to in an Apple-only environment).
        magius
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @IAmMarty

        Hahaha, Google just did it to their 'partners'. MSFT would kill it's own just to gain a little marketshare. (Which they are losing month by month to Apple.)
        comp_indiana
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @RationalGuy Chances are small that all OEM's will drop Windows once Microsoft has it's own PC-devision. What are the OEMs alternatives? Will Dell suddenly ship out nothing but Linux laptops? I don't think so. Of course there are other arguments too why MS won't buy HP's PC devision but it ain't out of fear for the OEMs
        belli_bettens@...
    • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

      @pedroroque Lots of this talk going on... I also immediately thought of this.
      Jayton
    • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

      @pedroroque Both are great ideas, and hence that's why Microsoft won't do it.
      Masari.Jones
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @Masari.Jones

        Because we all know Microsoft has no good ideas... heh, I get it. But somehow they still seem to make Billions year over year. Where does that leave you, Einstein? Apparently 'making money' is one good idea.
        TechNickle
    • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

      @pedroroque hehehe like it!
      kaveetdanani@...
    • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

      @pedroroque You know, I would buy a Microsoft Laptop. You took the words right out of my mouth. I also realize this might alienate some if not all the OEMs out there as another person mentioned. For me, I would care less. Maybe Microsoft could sweeten the deal too.

      Let's say, they somehow lock the hardware down on their computers like Apple does. They can identify that you are running a genuine "Microsoft PC" and you would get something like "Office" and other software suites for free -- Free upgrading, stuff like that or something. Or at least come out with a robust flavor specifically designed for the Microsoft PC systems -- Yeah, I for one will be all for that.
      The Douginator
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @The Douginator

        yeah that's about the worst idea ever. Do you know nothing of MS's past transgressions with Apple / Netscape? the IE anti trust stuff?

        I don't get why people who know nothing about the history comment on it.
        jessedegenerate
  • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

    In a New York minute...
    justthinking
  • Not Microsoft's job

    A nifty idea, but simply not going to happen. Microsoft writes the OS, OEMs and hardware vendors provide support for configuration and hardware device drivers. I can see Microsoft making it able to boot from Apple's EFI so that you can install and boot Windows without boot camp, but OS X dual-boot or drivers are going to be the responsibility of Apple or the end user to get set up.

    Not that it's a big deal. Apple will update boot camp with Windows 8 support in due course. Also there's a good chance that the existing Windows 7 drivers will be all you need to get a Windows 8 system working.
    aaron44126
    • You're wrong about the drivers

      @aaron44126

      Virtually all of the class drivers for Windows peripherals today ARE written by Microsoft. That's why you can do a clean install of Windows 7 and get full hardware support on many devices without ever touching a third-party driver.
      Ed Bott
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @Ed Bott No totally true. remember a few years back when Win7 came out, before upgrading it was necessary to run compatibility software to determine whether software or hardware drivers on the upgrade PC where compatible with Win7. If not, you had to get one from the vendor.
        toomuchtime
      • Not really true

        @Ed Bott Microsoft takes a basic driver from the manufacture and applies it to Windows 7 drivers as a approved driver. But many PC manufactures alter those drivers for their machines. Especially drivers that have certain features. Microsoft does not manage those drivers.
        jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
      • Correct in most cases

        @Ed Bott
        Have found that for some OEM's, they have "altered" drivers that are specific to their machines.
        For most a clean install of Win7 (not the OEM version) works very well with little if any issues.

        Done this on an ASUS, Dell, AW, Toshiba, Lenovo, Hp and Sony.
        Sony and Hp had "custom" drivers.
        AW had alternate drivers that took advantage of specific hardware configurations.

        :)
        rhonin
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @Ed Bott - Why would microsoft even want to do this? They would be making it easier for people to buy Macs? Mac OSX doesn't even run well in a virtual session so I see no reason for Micorsoft to reciprocate. If anything I would think they shouldn't be supporting it at all. Urge the OEM's to build better computers would be a better bet
        striker67
      • RE: Windows 8 on a Mac: why Microsoft should write its own Boot Camp

        @striker67

        If the consumer wants to spend money on a pretty Apple notebook and not run OS X, but run Windows to it's fullest capability (and not held hostage to generic drivers that provide minimal capability) then it *is* in Microsoft's best interest to provide that ability

        Remember, to install Windows on a Mac computer, the customer needs to spend the bucks for a full install of Windows (less if it's the OEM version but still they have to purchase), so regardless if the consumer buys Mac hardware or not, for the customer there's a Windows license purchase, which means Microsoft gets money.

        And if Microsoft can tout that Windows will run to it's fullest capability on Mac hardware, then Apple gets money for the hardware but it continues to be a Windows-centric world, which is good for all the application writers that create great software for the Windows environment.
        PollyProteus