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...

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