Windows XP on Mac?

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The Problems

  • Macintosh uses a different MBR
  • MacBooks use EFI, XP x86 uses BIOS
  • The modified Darwin Bootloader is made for EFI w/ EFI supporting operating systems

OK… So step by step. Where is the BIOS used? For what? How? The OS sends low-level calls to the BIOS that tell it exactly how to deal with the hardware. Now I don’t have the Windows XP source code at hand.. so all I can tell you for a fact is that NTLDR uses it to access the drive at first to boot Windows, and Windows uses it at *least* once more when it is mounting the drives.

The Required Programs and Stuff

  • Acronis Disk Director Bootable CD
  • Acronis True Image
  • Another computer with a clean install of XP. No programs installed at all.
  • A MacBook obviously!
  • A Windows Vista DVD (not for installation purposes!)
  • Vista boot files
  • bcdedit.exe
  • BCDedit restore file

Most of the problems can be theoretically quickly dealt with.

  1. Using the Bootable Acronis Disk Director CD on the MacBook, shrink the Mac partition. Create a new partition of type NTFS/HPFS in the remaining space.
  2. Setup a clean version of XP on a PC.
  3. Extract Boot.7z to the root drive of your XP installation.. So you have C:\Boot\
  4. Copy bcdedit.exe to the root drive of your XP installation. C:\BCDedit.exe
  5. Copy MacBook.bcd to the root drive of your XP installation
  6. Use sysprep to “reseal” your XP install and remove all hardware info from the setup
  7. Use Acronis TrueImage CD to make an image of your XP install.
  8. Use the bootable Acronis True Image CD to recreate the image on the partition you just made on your MacBook.
  9. Use the Bootable Vista DVD to boot on the MacBook.
  10. Select “Repair Startup” -> Next -> CMD -> Run too.
  11. Browse to drive C:\Boot (which is the partition you created on the MacBook and then extracted the Acronis TrueImage file to). (cd C:\boot)
  12. Run “fixntfs.exe -lh” without the quotes
  13. Browse back to drive C:\ (cd \)
  14. Run “bcdedit.exe /import MacBook.bcd” without the quotes
  15. Eject the CD and restart.
  16. In Mac now, hack the Darwin Bootloader to add another entry that chainloads Drive(0) Partition(2). With GRUB it would look something like this… I’m not sure if Darwin is the same, but this step is very simple, and has nothing to do with EFI.

    title Windows XP rootnoverify (hd0,1) chainloader +1
  17. Restart
  18. By selecting “Windows XP” on the Darwin Bootloader you should be chainloaded to the Vista bootloader, which should in turn boot the entry “NeoSmart Windows XP”
  19. If everything has gone well, XP will boot!!

38 thoughts on “Windows XP on Mac?

  1. This is basically a copy from the post I put on digg about the story. Windows XP uses the BIOS for more than just booting. It requires the presence of the BIOS to access certain parts of the computer during normal operation. Loading the WinXP bootloader is not sufficient to get Windows XP working on an EFI computer that lacks a backwards compatible BIOS mode, because you’ll blue screen (probably before Windows finishes loading) when Windows tries to access whatever BIOS resources (e.g. int 13h) that it needs.

  2. Did booting Windows XP the way you described indeed work? Kind of unbelievable, especially since noone has succeeded in booting anything other than Mac OS X on an iMac Core Duo and Acronis does not support EFI…. Also, the MacBooks aren’t shipping yet.

  3. Hey Guru,

    Your download links for these files dont work:

    Vista boot files
    BCDedit restore file

    Where did these files come from?

    BCDedit restore file


  4. Hey Hammer..
    Real sorry about that.. Fixed the links now.
    bcdedit.exe comes from my Vista installation. I wrote the BCDedit restore file myself.. programmed BCD to boot to a certain drive, etc; then exported the settings.. Now you just have to import them.

  5. Is this soft ” Acronis Disk Director CD” can boot on the iMac intel ?? i’m not sure
    as you tell :

    Using the Bootable Acronis Disk Director CD on the MacBook, shrink the Mac partition. Create a new partition of type NTFS/HPFS in the remaining space.

  6. but iMac/Macbook, use EFI not BIOS ! and i dont think that acronis disk director support EFI,
    or if it can, give me a link where i can see that this soft support EFI :)

  7. The download-links still/again don’t work.

    I can’t find anything on Acronis’ website that their software’s boot CDs support EFI. Afaik the only OS that currently supports the Mac’s EFI implementation is Mac OS X 10.4.4 for Intel.

    Have you tried this, Computer Guru?
    I don’t think that during boot is the only time Windows XP accesses BIOS calls. So it would crash pretty soon after.

  8. I don’t know. Does Mac use the official EFI standard? I would think so since its not Mac making the EFI, Intel is.

    All the links work fine here… Might want to clear your cache and try again?

  9. Yeah, it was the cache.

    Mac uses standard EFI (code from Intel), although Apple removed modules they did not need (like CSM (BIOS compatibility) and MBR (booting from legacy partition scheme)). Therefore, currently no known bootloader can boot on that platform, and Acronis does not support EFI at all as far as I can see on their website.

  10. Well, I don’t know if the new Acronis 10 Disk Director does..
    For what it’s worth, it doesn’t matter if Acronis itself supports EFI AFAIK.
    What matters is whether the Linux kernel on the Live CD has been compiled with EFI support or not.

  11. Acronis’ image program still needs to support EFI’s GPT partition scheme.
    And there is no Linux or bootloader that currently supports the iMacs EFI implementation.

  12. OK…. Maybe your’re on to something there..
    I have another idea, totally different, and I can only hope that it amounts to something… This was hard enough to do without the hardware, my next “thinking out of the box” plan will most probably be downright-impossible without having an iMac at hand… But I’ll just lay out my ponderings as clear as I can, and hope that someone with the $$$ to try it themselves finds a way to figure it out.

  13. Acronis do not support any MAC filesystem, how did you shrink the Apple partition??

  14. Not important.
    I made Mac on my Whitebox by using Acronis. Acronis does not NEED to recognize it, it resizes it as a generic partition, keeping the hexadecimal type tag (I believe it is AF from my experience) the same. No problems :)

  15. Post some video online to prove your theory or your sucess about Windows XP on a Mac Core Duo. Otherwise, if you cant make it work yourself why getting any guru credit?

  16. > Post some video online to prove your theory or your sucess about Windows XP on a Mac Core Duo.

    For those of you who didn’t notice yet: this is NOT a proven successful way, this was just Computer Guru thinking about how to approach this.

  17. > I cannot afford an iMac
    > I am the stereotypical ?poor, overseas, university student?

    Well, you could certainly afford your Winbox, couldn’t you?

    Just messing with you… ;-)
    It’s just that I can’t hear it anymore when people say, they can’t afford a Mac. It’s a real old cliche, which somehow never vanishes..

    A good PC with a flat screen will be almost the same price as an iMac. Yeah, I know, you build it yourselves and you still use a CRT..ok..ok..I get the point.. ;-)


  18. LOL, no not at all..
    Actually I think the iMac Core Duo is an excellent deal, especially for dual core and style, but I cannot afford another “Winbox” either… I spent 1,300 to build this machine of quality parts 18 months ago. The day I received all the stuff DDR2 reaches the wide consumer market, 64-Bit becomes integral, socket 478 is long dead, SATA II is the standard and IDE is a joke.. Basically I wasted that money :)
    Now I work and go to uni, but I have my priorities for the $ set straight… Family first (I still live with my fam), PC (or mac :)) second.

  19. You mention sysprep…
    > 6. Use sysprep to ?reseal? your XP install and remove all hardware info from the setup (thanks Kristan for pointing that out!).

    But sysprep doesn’t do anything to hardware info. It removes serialization, computer name and profile information. It might make sense to run it, but I think you’d have to worry much more about whether the HAL is the same. >Switching HALs> can totally foobar your install in a heartbeat. And being that multiproc (core?) and ACPI are involved, I wonder if one would be limited to single-proc with no power management.

  20. Damn you’re right!
    Sysprep *does* reset the hardware info in device manager though, doesn’t it?
    But yes, for a fact you need to install XP on a multicore to get it to run multicore :(

  21. Don’t bother. It is acknowledged by MS that even current VISTA beta won’t boot on EFI machines unless it runs on BIOS mode. It is labeled as ‘KNOWN PROBLEM’.

  22. “Mac uses standard EFI (code from Intel), although Apple removed modules they did not need (like CSM (BIOS compatibility) and MBR (booting from legacy partition scheme)). Therefore, currently no known bootloader can boot on that platform, and Acronis does not support EFI at all as far as I can see on their website.” – mk

    Wouldn’t an easier approach be to hack the EFI and add in the CSM and MBR? Is it possible to get a copy of the EFI w/ CSM and MBR from Intel? What about from another Intel core-duo motherboard meant for PCs? At that point, wouldn’t any legacy OS that requires a BIOS be bootable? If the CSM and MBR are part of the EFI code, this seems like the path of least resistance. At least, once these modules are part of the EFI, it seems like things should work like a typical Wintel machine. Is that assumption wrong? Any hardware engineers out there want to comment? How hard is this approach? Is it even feasible?

  23. After a little more investigation I found this:

    “The chipset used in the MacBook Pro is not disclosed, but the general specifications of the notebook strongly suggest that Apple is using Intel’s new 945PM (Napa) platform/chipset with discrete video. All the hallmarks are there: 667 MHz front side bus, Serial ATA storage interface, and PCI Express for video.”

    Now, check this out:

    The Acer TravelMate 8200 notebooks use the same CPU, chipset (assuming that Apple is using the 945PM), video card, SATA interface, 667 MHz FSB, etc… It even has a little camera in the same place at the top of the LCD. I don’t know if the Acer is using EFI, but I assume that it is, except with BIOS support. So, again, is there a way to port the Acer TravelMate 8200 EFI to the MacBook Pro? Or, since the hardware is so similar, what about running OS X 10.4.4 on the Acer? Got any ideas on how to accomplish that?

    One thing is for sure, when you compare the hardware of the MacBook Pro with that of the Acer TravelMate 8200, you can see that all major hardware is the same and thus, drivers exist for both OS X and for Win XP.

  24. Hi;

    I have the same problem.

    I have macbook pro and I need to instal winXP on it, but no CD bootable option on mac in the restart function.

    How to solve this problem.




  25. All of you read this link :D

    and also this one


    I have install on my macbook a windows xp sp2 and wokrk fine, the only thing is that i have to use a 32 bit version fo xp and not the 64, sorry for that but mac dont have 64 tech on thwir laps, sorry but thats stink mac!!  :(  I still love more an AMD 64bit with nvidia than that blink-blink Mac, PC with Linux rules and for Macpeople well the power of mac is gone, no more Power cores, just a regular Intel 32 bit hardware, so Bye to the power of mac’s , now just a nother ordinary PC but more $$$ , and no, a mac is not afforablle, and is not a gamer Machine is just a Photoshop, music, or video expensive Pc to work on that, sorry bur i Prefered a PC (dell, alienware, falcon or home made PC) rather than a Mac $$$  :D

    Thats the real world and Yes you can install windows, :P


    Dark Logan 

    “enter to my World…”

  26. I have 2 mac books that I formatted with Windows XP. All that I did was hold “c” to boot from a cd in the EFI Architecture and booted the XP install disk. From there it was a normal install. I have had no problems with these comps since the format. I am using it now.

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