Mac mini, Mac OSX and Windows 7

Slowly but surely I am dragged into the Apple world. After purchasing an iPod touch (which is a damn cool device) I purchased a Mac mini. Macs are known as the better (and more expensive) PCs nowadays and they are pretty fashionable too. This and the fact that programming my iPod touch works only on Macs persuaded me to dive into the world of Apple computers.

The new Mac mini got faster (2,26 GHz the cheapest version) and now has more memory (2 GB RAM, 160 GB HDD). Also it comes with Mac OS X in version 10.6 (Snow Leopard).


It sure is suitable for your living room, because it is almost silent and looks very appealing.


Now that Microsoft released Windows 7, the true Windows XP successor (come on, let's forget about Vista :), Windows has become more attractive too. It's hard to overlook the things that Microsoft adopted from Mac OS X, especially the new task bar with the possibility to pin programs.


People who want both worlds now have a perfect and cheap opportunity with the Mac mini. BootCamp is the program that makes installing a dual boot system Windows/Mac OS a piece of cake. From Mac OS just start the Boot Camp assistent. It let's you repartition your hard disc and you can choose the size of each partition.


After you've done this, insert the Windows installation DVD and reboot. Windows installation will start and ask you on which partition it should install. Choose the one named "Boot Camp" (or similar), otherwise you will wipe out your Mac OS X partition (you don't want that, believe me). Also format the partition to continue. The installer will then copy all the necessary files from the DVD and reboot. If you leave the Windows DVD in the drive it will boot Mac OS, but that is no problem. To get back to the Windows installation just remove the DVD (for people using a windows keyboard: press and hold F12 to eject the DVD), set the start volume to the new windows partition (control panel -> start volume) and restart.


The windows installer will now do its thing and you just have to wait (and reboot maybe a couple of times). When installation is completed you have to install a few driver to make the system work completely. For that just insert your Mac OS X DVD, navigate to folder Boot Camp and start the setup program. It will install all the necessary drivers automatically. After that you should be done and able to use your Windows system normally. You can now get back to Mac OS X by selecting the proper start partition in the control panel under Boot Camp.


Hopefully all went well and without problems but chances are that there might be one or two points not going so well. In this case my only general advise is to search for help with your preferred search engine :) For me the installation of Windows 7 on my Mac mini took me about 1 1/2 hours, so it definitely was an easy go. I cannot promise you the same smooth installation, but with a bit of luck you will have it too.


Conclusion: If you want to have Windows and Mac OS X on one computer it is possible. Using for example the Mac mini you can have a cheap and quite powerful system that allows you to have this. With Boot Camp Apple gives you an easy to use tool to make it happen in short time. Although the Mac mini doesn't make the best gaming PC, it has a quite good performance. If you want to play recent games, make sure to set a lower resolution and to switch of some of the effects to get a good game experience. I was able to play the Risen demo for example with virtually no performance drawbacks at an resolution of 1024 x 768.


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