Reports surfaced earlier this week that someone had actually found a way to install Windows XP on an Intel based iMac. The hacker’s handle was reported to be narf2006, and he claimed that he had a functional install of XP running on an iMac, and that he could reproduce the process. Many were skeptical, including myself. As it turns out that narf2006 was indeed successful. Confirmations of his success began surfacing last night.
In late February, Onmac.net started a contest offering a prize to the first enterprising Mac enthusiast who could successfully install Windows XP on an Intel Macintosh. Readers were encouraged to contribute to the prize, and when the prize was finally awarded, the pot had reached $13,854.
The contest had the following rules:
- Instructions must boot Windows XP (at least), not Vista or any other version of Windows.
- Windows must be able to coexist with Mac OS X and each system may not interfere with the operation of the other (basically a traditional dual boot system where one OS is running at a time).
- Your method, upon starting the computer, must offer the user to boot either OS X or Windows XP (hint: GRUB / LILO).
- The first person to post complete instructions, including pictures of the boot process to The Forum will be the winner. Instructions will be peer reviewed once they are received and once the solution is guaranteed working, the prize money will be transferred via paypal.
- You give this website the rights to post your solution exclusively.
- If it is determined impossible to boot Windows on the Mac by March 23, 2006 [on] March 30, 2006 (7 day delay), all donations will be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. If you donated prior to 2006/01/23 2:10pm CST, and you do not wish to donate to charity, I will return your money minus the paypal fee.
- You cannot use virtualization software such as Xen or VMWare.
Many large names in the Mac community contributed to the cause including Digital Express, Delicious Monster, and The Uneasy Silence. In addition to those, anyone who felt passionate about the subject was invited to contribute any amount they saw fit.
Now that the unthinkable has been accomplished, we wait to see what the results of the effort will be. There have been claims that a new opensource project will be started to pickup where narf2006 left off. Others claim that some kind of shareware product will be released. It will let anyone install Windows on the Mac for a nominal fee. For now, we can only wait and see.
Looking at some screenshots of the running copy of Windows XP, and the video of the installation that was posted on YouTube.com, a couple of questions come to mind. First of all, according to the Windows device manager, it looks like many of the drivers failed to load for the Mac’s internal hardware. These include wireless, Bluetooth, and wired networking. Will it be a trivial matter to load drivers for these components? Will future versions of Windows recognize all of the Mac hardware right out of the box? And once all of the drivers have loaded, how well does Windows really perform when it’s running on a Mac? Will it be a viable gaming platform?
Stay tuned for answers to these questions and more. Follow-up stories will be posted as information becomes available.
Update: 3/16/06 3:29pm
If you like life on the cutting edge, have an Intel based Mac, and don’t mind reformatting your hard drive, you’re in luck. The files and instructions necessary to boot XP on the Mac have been posted for all to download. Get them here.