MacBook Air, Windows 8(.1), and Hardware

I’m replacing my notebook and mac mini with a new MacBook Air. My notebook runs Windows, so Boot Camp (version 5) is an essential part of the equation.

Last night was my first attempt. Call it 3 hours and 4 attempts. So far, I still do not have a Windows notebook computer.

There are two scenarios I’ve tried, and the each fail in a different way. The major pain point, however, has to be the download of Windows drivers from Apple.

Windows 8.1

I downloaded the Windows 8.1 preview ISO and followed the instructions on the Boot Camp 5 assistant. I waited—a long time—for the assistant to download the Windows drivers. When it was finished, it rebooted and automatically began to set up Windows. Several minutes later, I had a copy of Windows 8 running on my mac. Neat.

Problem is, there was no network. No networks were available, and the network adapter wasn’t even working.

Windows 8

No problem, I thought. I’ve demonstrated that it’s possible to run Windows on my mac. Plus, I’d rather have my licensed copy of Windows 8 (not the preview of Windows 8.1) so that I don’t have to reinstall everything when the preview expires.

So I go through the motions. I wait—a long time—for the assistant to download the Windows drivers. Then it eventually reboots to set up Windows. I click Next on the screen that asks about language settings. But eventually I get to the welcome screen where it asks me to choose my favorite color and enter my name. And I can’t do anything. Keyboard doesn’t work. Trackpad doesn’t work. (How was I able to click Next only a few screens ago?) The only button that works is the power button, and it won’t even boot into OSX.

Luckily I read about holding the Alt key down while powering the thing on, and I can bail out and back into OSX.

Windows 8.1 Again

By this time, it’s several hours later and I’ve forgotten that the 8.1 install didn’t have the network, so I went through the whole mess again. I wait—a long time—for the assistant to download the Windows drivers, and I let it reboot into Windows 8.1 Then, “Damn,” it hits me, the network card won’t work in 8.1.

Google It

All throughout the evening the Internet was not very helpful. Lots of people had the same issues, but most of what’s out there is problems with Boot Camp 3 (I have 5), and most of the information is just repeating the instructions I had already followed. One particularly unhelpful comment on a Mac bulletin board suggested that if more people read the directions, fewer people would have problems.

One piece of advice was to repeat the whole procedure using the left side USB port for the memory stick. Didn’t help. Another “answer” came from Apple itself, suggesting that I use a USB 2.0 memory stick instead of my brand-new, purchased-just-for-this-installation USB 3.0 memory stick. Maybe I’ll have to end up downgrading in order for this to work.

Meantime, I’m killing a few minutes before I can go to the Apple store to beg for help. That’s part of why I opted to get a more-expensive Mac laptop than a cheaper Lenovo or HP—there’s a store of tech experts in town who will help me—at least for the first 2 weeks. Here’s hoping they have better luck than I do.

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One Response to MacBook Air, Windows 8(.1), and Hardware

  1. Martin Mapes says:

    Following up: On the way to the apple store, I bought a 2.0 USB memory stick, just in case that was the problem. When I got there, I found out I would have to wait 3 hours for a “genius” to help me. So I spent my time loading windows onto my new, old, 2.0 USB stick, then waiting—a long time—for the assistant to download the Windows drivers. When I rebooted into Windows setup, from the left side, on a USB 2.0 memory stick, it worked.

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