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Apple misses its mark on Windows 7 Boot Camp support

Installing Windows 7 over Vista gives numerous advantages, even if only for OS stability; however, to date Apple has not officially supported.

The release of Windows 7 has had a number of Boot Camp users wondering about official support from Apple. Installing Windows 7 over Vista will give numerous advantages, even if for nothing more than to increase the stability of the operating system; however, because Apple has not officially supported Windows, our recommendation so far has been to hold off on using it under Boot Camp, and run it in a virtual machine instead.

While a number of people have been successfully using both the beta and official Windows 7 releases on their Macs in the Boot Camp environment, the lack of official support from Apple may result in odd and unexpected behavior. Most people who've noticed problems have found the multi-touch mouse drivers to not behave properly, but others have found the system to boot and run slowly, and in some cases refuse to boot back to OS X (1, 2). In October, Apple released a knowledgebase document claiming that Windows 7 would supported in Mac OS X Snow Leopard before the end of 2009; however, to date there has been no mention of an update from Apple (though to be fair, from the time of this posting they have about 16 hours left).

According to AppleInsider, the official Windows 7 support updates are still undergoing tests at Apple, and will be released next year. Clearly, Windows 7 support on Apple hardware is not a priority of Apple's, but given Apple's initial claim of an update before the end of this year, it is likely they are finishing up the drivers and will have them out sooner rather than later.

While Boot Camp is a great option for maximizing performance when running Windows, it may not necessarily be the best. The main drawbacks for it are:

  • You cannot run your Mac applications simultaneously

  • You cannot safely resize the Mac or Windows partitions

  • You cannot easily transfer files between the two partitions (without third-party support)

These problems can easily be overcome by running a virtualization program such as VMWare Fusion, Parallels Desktop, or the free VirtualBox from Sun. These programs allow you to easily integrate Windows into your Mac environment, manage the Windows disk size by creating dynamically expanding hard disks, and use your same documents in both Windows and OS X (or at least easily copy them between the two environments).

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