Installing Microsoft Windows 2012 Server On A MacBook A1181 (The Odyssey)

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As an Exchange developer, you can never have enough servers to play with, and the most recent versions will only install on 64bit hardware. Which I don’t have a lot of. In desperation, I decided to try to install it on my missus’s A1181 MacBook. I was amazed to discover that it nearly all works (at the time of writing, the only thing not working is the wireless NIC), but it was, as I suppose you’d expect, a bit of an odyssey. I though I’d share with the world some of the things you need to be aware of, in case anyone else out there wants to try it.

To start with, there are a couple of things to think about even before you start. Such as: How might you log into Windows when the Mac doesn’t have a Delete key (so you can’t do CTRL-ALT-DEL)? How will you manage without the right-hand mouse button, which is used a lot in Windows? You will find when you’ve finished the install that the Mac two-finger gesture doesn’t work. It turns out that Boot Camp fixes these issues for you, but before you begin, get a USB keyboard and mouse that you can use.

Anyway, the first thing you may want to consider is to prepare a special Windows boot DVD. If you’ve downloaded the Windows 2012 evaluation ISO image from the MS web site, you may find that it won’t boot on the Mac. If your model is affected (ours is a 64bit Intel A1181), you will see a message that says:

Select CD-ROM Boot Type.

But you will find that none of the keys (even on an external keyboard) work at this point. So, you need to do this

to prepare a slightly modified DVD. Of course, your model may not be affected, so you may want to just use the version you downloaded. Be warned, though, after I’d seen that message, and tried to reboot, I got a message saying ‘no bootable device present’, which I found a bit scary, but was fixed using the OSX install DVD to scan the internal fixed disk, and to remind the Mac which disk to boot from.

Then, start Boot Camp Assistant on the Mac. Use it to download the Mac hardware drivers, and burn them to a CD which you can use in Windows later to get the hardware working, and to fix the CTRL-ALT-DEL thing. Boot. Then tell it how large you want the partition to be. It will then want to verify that you have the (now modified) Windows boot DVD in the drive. Then it will restart the Mac.

Now is where the fun starts. If all goes well, after the reboot, you will see the Windows installer begin. It’s fairly uneventful, and it is something of a relief to find that all the hardware seems to work. Eventually, though, you will need to press CTRL-ALT-DEL to login. The Mac’s backspace key won’t help, so now is the time to plug in the external keyboard. You should now be able to login.

Next thing you will probably want to do is to eject the DVD so that you can install the Windows part of the Mac Boot Camp software. The eject key doesn’t work, and the Mac two-finger gesture doesn’t either. So this is where you need to plug in the external mouse. Right-click the DVD in Windows Explorer, and eject it.

Now, insert the Boot Camp CD you burned earlier. It will try to install the necessary drivers and utilities. On the Mac I was using, it produces a really unhelpful “Boot Camp x64 is unsupported on this computer model” message. The solution that worked for me was to find the Drivers\Apple\BootCamp64.msi file, right-click it (external mouse, remember), and go through the Troubleshoot Compatibility wizard.

If you can get the Boot Camp package installed, you will now find that you can log on with CTRL-ALT-DEL by using the Mac backspace key, and that you can now use the two-finger gesture to do a right-click on the Mac trackpad. It also provides a nice way to restart into OSX. For some reason, though, the built in wireless card doesn’t work. I hope to find an answer, though. One day.

Well, that’s it. I hope this helps somebody. Have fun.

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