2010 MacBook Air conversion to Native Windows 7

by | May/25/2011

In case you ever want to convert an Apple to run only Windows, here are the technical steps I use:

Get Mac Drivers for Windows (Apple Boot Camp Windows Drivers)

  • Using a Mac with OS X to generate the Apple Boot Camp Windows Drivers
    • On the (or another) Mac with OS X, keep running apple update until the updates are all current
    • Make sure you have a place for the Boot Camp Assistant to save the Windows support software
      • blank CD, DVD or
      • An external drive formatted as MS-DOS (FAT)
        • To format an external drive as MS-DOS (FAT), use: Applications folder > Utilities > Disk Utility
    • Open: Applications folder > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant
    • Follow the on-screen instructions
      • Ok to ignore warnings if you do not have the DVD connected
      • Download the Windows support software (takes a while)
      • Save the Apple Boot Camp Windows Drivers to a CD, DVD, or FAT 32 external disk
        • Used approximately 600 Meg on 3/30/11
      • Stop and exit before allowing Boot Camp Assistant to create a partition for Windows—you won’t need that because
        • You are not going to use Boot Camp
        • We are installing only Windows 7 on the computer
    • In a later step, we’ll install the Windows support software on your Windows partition.

Eliminate OS X and Install Windows 7

Note—I learned a lot from http://www.zdnet.com. I also copied and pasted, then modified to eliminate redundancy and add clarity, information from documentation at www.apple.com.

By the way, I did elect to purchase a full license of Windows 7 to use just on my Air.

Another important note: From the very beginning, and every time, when booting into windows expect to stare at a white screen for about 45 seconds.

At first, I thought there was something wrong. Just wait it out—after 45 seconds of the white screen Windows 7 will boot fine. I suspect the Air is looking for other boot devices.

  • With the computer turned off, insert the Apple recovery USB rescue device that came with your system. Make sure the four copper connections are facing up.
  • When powering up, hold down the C key to boot to the USB rescue device.
  • Wipe out the drive partitions and create one new partition with a MBR boot sector instead of the Apple GUID one
    • Choose Utilities > Disk Utility
    • Choose the 251GB Apple SSID drive
    • Select the Partition tab
    • In volume scheme set to “1 partition”
    • Name: Windows7 (or whatever you want)
    • Format: FAT32
    • Size: 251GB
    • Options > MBR (Master Boot Record)
    • Choose Apply (and, when prompted, confirm you want to partition the drive)
    • Use the menu at the top of the screen to “quit the disk utility”
    • Use the menu at the top of the screen to “quit the mac OS X installer”
  • Shut down the Mac
  • Remove the USB rescue stick
  • Plug in the external DVD drive with Windows 7 64 bit DVD installed
  • Boot the system while holding down the Option key
  • If you want to register Windows online during the installation:
    • Join a Wi-Fi network or
    • Plug in the USB to RJ45 converter and connect via an Ethernet cable
    • Neither is necessary
  • Click on the arrow above the Wi-Fi and the CD “Windows”
  • The computer will seem to turn off and then Windows install starts
    • You’ll be prompted to reformat the drive with NTFS
    • The installation process takes a long time and the computer may seems “frozen” at times but it is still going
  • Install the Windows support software you created earlier:
    • Insert the CD or DVD or connect the external disk with the Windows support software
      • If the DVD drive is not recognized:
        • Shut down the Mac / Windows 7 machine
        • Turn on the Mac again
        • The turning on process may take more than 2 minutes, and the screen will flash, and the computer may seem like it went off
        • Eventually Windows will boot and be able to recognize the CD/DVD drive
      • If the installer doesn’t start automatically, browse the CD, DVD, or external disk using Windows Explorer and double-click the setup.exe file in the Boot Camp directory.
    • Follow the onscreen instructions
      • The dialog will say “Installing Boot Camp” but only the Win drivers are installed
      • Important: Do not click the Cancel button in any of the installer dialogs.
      • If a message appears that says the software you’re installing has not passed Windows Logo testing, click Continue Anyway.
      • You don’t need to respond to installer dialogs that appear only briefly during the installation
      • If nothing appears to be happening, there may be a prompt that you must respond to, but the prompt is in a window that is covered up (came up underneath). Check the taskbar and look behind open windows.
    • After your computer restarts, follow the instructions for any other installers that appear
    • Note: To eject the DVD from the drive
      • Open Windows Explorer
      • Right click (click with two fingers on the touch pad) on the DVD drive icon
      • Choose “Eject”
    • Check for updated Windows support software
      • Use the Apple Software Update inside of Windows (look under “All programs”)
  • Configure Windows
    • Install all Microsoft patches
    • Install IE9
    • Install Microsoft Security Essentials
    • Microsoft patches again
    • Set patches to ask me before downloading or updating
  • Then I used the Windows support software by using Apple Software Update inside of Windows (look under “All programs”) to check for updates again.
  • You may want to search e-Bay for “windows 7 sticker.”

In Case You Ever Want to Go Back to Using OS X

  • When powering up, hold down the C key to boot to the USB rescue device
  • Follow the instructions

Test and Use

  • USB Ethernet adapter
  • Wi-Fi LAN adapter
    • Command-P is like Windows-P
  • External CD ROM

Microsoft Office

Note: If you install Microsoft Office, then PowerPoint will crash as soon as you type a key. The latest Boot camp update disables a keyboard setting in Windows. I found the answer at http://answers.microsoft.com.

  • To fix, Open Control Panel
  • In view mode “View by Category”, find the section “Clock, Language and Region”
  • Click “Change Keyboards or other input methods”
  • Press the button “Change Keyboards”
  • Press the button “Add”
  • Scroll down to “English (United States)” and expand
  • Check box “US”
  • Press OK
  • Press OK—You’ll see two keyboards listed “US” and “United States (Apple)”
  • Press OK

Shadow Protect

In case you use ShadowProtect image backup software on Windows 7 (I do) then note that the apple software updater may interfere with Shadow Protect.

For this reason, I removed the apple updater from my computer permanently. I will miss the updater; However, I would miss being able to perform and image restore even more than I will miss the updater.