March 23, 2006
Posted By: Sascha Segan
Since narf2006 and blanka announced their solution for booting Windows XP on Intel Macs last week, many aspiring dual-booters have been posting on the OnMac forums trying to get Bill’s baby running on Steve’s systems. We thought, what can we add to all of this? Why, we can boot XP on a 20″ iMac, a MacBook Pro, and a Mac Mini Intel Core Duo all in the same room, of course. And we can make all three of them remotely access a fourth Mac system via VNC, so we’re looking at Mac OS as a window in Windows XP Pro.
(This is all 100% legal, by the way. Apple has said it’s not opposed to booting other OSes on Macs – Linux has run on Macs for years – and our copy of Windows is legally licensed.)
Installation isn’t difficult, thanks to the guides now available at the OnMac Wiki. The major hurdle is that each of the three systems required a different version of the xom.efi file, the bootloader which lets the system choose between Windows XP and Mac OS. We also had to tweak the video settings while installing Windows on the iMac, though once Windows was installed it had no problem running at the full 1680×1050 resolution of the 20″ screen.
We’re not about to play Doom 3 on any of these machines – there are still no video drivers available for the iMac or MacBook, making graphics pretty slow. But we got Ethernet, wireless networking, and the headphone jack (but not the internal speakers, iSight or the remote) working using drivers suggested by OnMac.
Why do this, other than that we can? Well, we saw our friends at ExtremeTech boot Mac OS X on a homebrew Intel box last year, so we wanted to match that feat. More importantly, this opens up a world of Windows software to Intel Mac users, especially since there’s no Intel-optimized version of Virtual PC, Microsoft’s official solution for running Windows programs on Macs.
Desktops maven Joel Santo Domingo (at right in the picture above) ran some benchmarks on the three machines, and came up with surprising results. The MacBook Pro is the fastest Core Duo laptop we’ve tested running the Photoshop scripts. It’s faster than other laptops originally designed for Windows. This bodes very well for the performance of an Intel-accelerated OS X Photoshop, when that finally appears.