Tips for dual-booting Windows 8 on Macs

Erik Eckel recommends using Boot Camp to dual-boot Windows 8 on Macs. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Years of supporting numerous commercial users provide hard-knock, real-life lessons valuable to understanding how businesses really operate. Years of technology consulting also reveal how business users truly equip and interact with computers versus how they might wish to believe they equip and interact with desktops and laptops.

Over time, and by working directly with business users operating Macs, I've learned its best to keep computer configurations as absolutely simple as possible. While technology professionals typically have no trouble keeping numerous logins straight-such as is often required for logging in to local computers, cloud-based apps, Web consoles, email platforms, CRM tools, ERP programs, EMR software, terminal services sessions, accounting solutions and more-even that simple task can prove overly complex and burdensome to end users.

Thus, it typically ends better when Mac configurations retain as much simplicity as is reasonably possible considering a user's business needs, objectives, requirements, and equipment. Asking users to become adept manipulating virtualized applications environments, in which the user must first initiate virtualization software to access a second OS within an active OS X installation in order to access ultimately quaternary applications within a tertiary window, is no longer a step I recommend for most end users.

Factoring in how many times I've encountered clients whose previous technology providers loaded virtualization software, a Windows install and resource-intensive Windows programs (including QuickBooks, Outlook and even CAD applications) on a Mac ill-prepared with appropriate CPUs and RAM, it becomes much easier to simply recommend that Mac users who must run Windows applications simply do so using Boot Camp. It's much easier for the end user to simply reboot the Mac, depressing a single key in the process, than learn to operate a secondary active OS within virtualization software. And, the Mac performs much better, while eliminating often common USB, peripheral and printing issues that sometimes accompany virtualization software installations.

Windows 8 on Boot Camp

If you must run Windows 8 on a Mac, Boot Camp is therefore the method I recommend. Boot Camp 5 adds Windows 8 support to OS X. Apple provides elegant Boot Camp instruction manuals, which assist the process.

Here are some tips for running Windows 8 on Boot Camp:

  • Apple warns that only 64-bit Windows 8 and Windows 8 Pro editions are compatible with OS X and that Enterprise versions are unsupported.
  • Apple instructs administrators to employ the Boot Camp Assistant, found within the Utilities folder, to create and configure the required Windows partition. Third-party partition and disk utilities should not be used.
  • Windows 8 must be installed on the system's internal disk. Using Boot Camp, Apple does not support installing Windows 8 to an external disk.
  • Windows 7 Boot Camp installs can be upgraded to Windows 8. Administrators should be sure to first install Boot Camp 5 Support Software from Apple before beginning the upgrade install, however.
  • Once Windows 8 is installed within Boot Camp, users can switch between booting OS X and Windows by depressing the Option (Alt) key during startup. Administrators can specify the startup OS preference for users within the Startup Disk Control Panel in Windows or OS X Startup Disk System Preferences.


Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...


The unibody MacBook can run Windows 8. The trackpad drivers will not function without some hacking. As I am only using this to get some testing done; it is not a long term installation. If I remember correctly Windows 7 was 32-bit. I upgraded with a full license disk for Windows 8. This was all done in February. I don't think that Boot Camp 5 will install on this MacBook.


The reason I prefer boot camp is that it uses all of the Macs CPU and memory when in Windows. You don't have to share the host OS resources like Parallels.


I agree totally with DrGlennis, Parallels is simple to install and operates seamlessly for printing and external drives etc. In this connected world, it is illogical to think that a person can totally shut off the mac side so they can run a windows program. These people must have a job that does not include using email, and any ms office programs. Right now I have 9 different programs running all of which I switch thru to perform routine tasks. I have 7 macs at my house and all have Parallels, my kids switch between the Mac side and windows side without issue. My mother who is 84 has a Mac with Parallels and has no issue operating it. Most people I know who have a mac use parallels mainly for running Quicken, as the Quicken for Mac lacks numerous features. As a matter of fact we were discussing this the other night that main reason quicken has not provided updated Mac software is that people have found how easy it is to get parallels and get the windows version of quicken. I will agree that a few years ago the virtual environment was not as seamless as now and it was a memory hog, but the last few versions are great.

Why would any Mac user want Boot Camp when Parallels is multi-times better? Does Eckel also recommend spats and VHS?

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