Once again I feel tormented by technology. I needed to install Windows XP on my old MacBook Pro, late 2008. Yes, I’ve finally stumbled upon an app I need to use that is only available on Windows! God have mercy!
I decided that I wasn’t going to spend a dime on this project, hence my decision to use an older version of Windows (because I have an old license for it and the install DVD). This also meant I wasn’t going to pay to upgrade a Windows virtual machine I have so it would run on Mavericks 10.9.2. (I had also heard rumors that this particular piece of software would not run on a virtual Windows machine.) So, I decided to set up a partition on my Mac hard drive and run the Mac laptop computer as either a Windows machine or a Mac, depending on what I need to do. Most of the time I’ll use it as a Mac. Apple makes BootCamp for this very purpose, and here is where the numerous problems began.
I guess Apple really doesn’t want anyone to run Windows on their Macs because I’ve never been through a more complicated maze of mess! Different Mac machines will/not run Windows XP. My late 2008 will! (To see what Windows versions will run on your Mac, check out this link at Apple Support. To see what year your Mac was made, which you need to know to use the chart at the previously linked Apple Support document, enter your Mac serial number at this site.)
It gets worse: The BootCamp version that comes with my Mavericks (OS 10.9) install will only run Windows 7 or Windows 8, not Windows XP. Huh?! You see, different versions of the Mac OS come with different versions of BootCamp which will install only specific versions of Windows. As everyone knows, Windows XP is on its way out (soon to be no longer supported by Microsoft) and is not supported by the BootCamp version that comes with OS 10.9.
Short version of the story: I did it! Amazingly, I did it! (Took over 6 hours of researching and trial and error trouble shooting!)
For everyone that wants to run Windows XP on a slightly older MacBook Pro (late 2008), you will need a DVD of Snow Leopard (OS 10.6), a Windows XP install DVD and license, and a good bit of time. Here’s how to did it:
- Use Disk Utility on your Mac (Applications -> Utilities) to create a partition, on your Mac hard drive, for the Windows installation.
- Make certain your internal drive is large enough for your existing Mac files and the new Windows partition you are about to create. Also, make certain that the partition you are about to create is large enough to hold Windows XP and any apps you plan to install. And yes, this new partition for Windows can live on your Mac’s internal hard drive next to your existing Mac partition. Disk Utility resizes your existing partition to accommodate the creation of the new Windows partition. However, this process takes some time. For one terrifying moment I thought my computer had frozen up. It hadn’t. It’s just time consuming.
- Make certain that the new partition you are creating is formatted as a Windows NT File System (NTFS) or this will not work.
- Insert the Windows XP install CD and reboot. Hold down the [option] key when your Mac chimes. Select the Windows XP install disk to boot up from your Windows XP CD and install Windows XP on the newly formatted partition. This also takes a good bit of time, more than creating the partition for Windows.
- Your Mac will reboot when the Windows install is completed. You will need to hold down the [option] key during the start up chime and then select the Windows partition as your boot up choice.
- Go through the Windows configuration process.
- Once the Windows configuration is completed, reboot your Mac as a Mac and eject the Windows install CD. I found I could not eject the Windows XP install CD with the eject button when Windows was running. Several mouse and keyboard actions do not work until special drivers are installed in Windows to make it talk to the Mac hardware. (At least that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it!)
- Reboot the Mac as a Windows machine (by holding down the [option] key when it chimes and selecting the Windows partition).
- Insert an old Snow Leopard disk into your optical drive. Snow Leopard contains the correct drivers (which is apparently what BootCamp actually is?!) you are going to need to make your Mac hardware talk to the Windows XP operating system. (If you don’t have a Snow Leopard disk, try other versions of the OS from around that time: maybe 10.5 (Leopard) or 10.7 (Lion)? Good luck. You will probably need it! I used 10.6 (Snow Leopard). It worked.)
- In Windows, navigate to the CD once it has spun up to speed and shows the name of the install disk. Double click it. My computer then automatically launched the correct version of the Boot Camp driver install utility found on the Snow Leopard disk. This is the version of BootCamp you will need.
- I went through the Boot Camp driver install utility setup wizard. When it finished, my sound began to work, my computer automatically connected to my network, the screen resolution dramatically improved, and important keys on the keyboard that had previously been functionless began to work as well as mouse functions (like right-clicking).
- Just to cheat death for another day, I rebooted again.
- I am using a program that requires a micro USB cable be attached to a piece of external hardware. I had to install a special driver to make that work in Windows XP. I figured out which one to install by reading the error message and Googling it. The driver was a free download. (Later I found that the company that makes the app I need to use also provide the driver!) Hopefully your needs will not be esoteric.
Yes, once again I recall why I hate Windows. It always demands your attention with messages about security and other crazy stuff. I guess proficient Windows users know how to address that or turn them off. I also found Internet Explorer in Windows XP to literally be useless. It just doesn’t work with many web pages now. I had to download Firefox to do anything on the web.
So happy Windows XP using an old Snow Leopard install disk on a late 2008 MacBook Pro running Mavericks!
God save the Queen!