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I'm a contracting web developer, and want to get a new MacBook Pro laptop with Windows running as an alternative OS. I'll probably be using Windows 80% of the time, and 20% of the time I'll do iPhone development in Mac OS X.

  1. Am I losing any performance when in Windows mode?

  2. Is this system robust? I need it to be 100% robust as I'm in the field all the time. It needs to be as reliable as a native Windows PC.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I have a MBPro and used to use windows 90% on the time. Now I use it 100% of the time (OsX is not installed anymore). I found no actual problems whatsoever (apart from a couple of hardware failures), which is to be excpected because after all the MBPro hardware just an ordinary PC that looks more fancy.

A couple of minor annoyances:

  • there's something not right with the drivers for fan control. In summer the fans go nuts in Windows while they do not in OsX.
  • there's also something wrong with the battery driver. Works fine, but when the battery starts degrading it stops working meaning the pc will just stop without any warning from Windows saying 'Plug in power now'.
  • definitely install Windows 7 64 bit to take advantage of lots of RAM.
  • for installing the drivers I would strongly advise against installing the entire BootCamp package as it installs everything (including Apple Software Update) while you only need like 7 drivers. Instead I recommend this approach: extract the BootCamp.msi package using the msix tool, extract the mst file using 7zip and select the drivers you need (trackpad, keyboard, iSight, RealTek, BlueTooth, IR, null driver)
  • get the video driver from the nVidia site, it works better than the bootcamp one (which went berserk when inserting a TV to DVI converter on the DVI port)
  • if you're a programmer and use dbgview you'll quickly notice that Apple's keyboard manager application writes nonsense to the debugger every second. Extremely annoying. Here's my fix: those messages come from OutputDebugString calls; load kbdmgr into dllexp.exe to find out at what address the function is loaded, both for Ansi and Unicode. Attach debugger to keybdmgr, put a breakpoint on those addresses. In dissassembled view, go up in the callstack to the place where the actual call takes place and note the opcode. Open kbdmgr with a hex editor (like xvi32) and search for the opcode. Check that the bytes around it really match the bytes around from the dissassmbly view. Replace the opcode with nops aka 0×90. Save and replace original executable.
  • last but not least: there is no delete key. Look here for info on fixing this, I remapped F12 to delete.

Other than that, everything is fine, and I use the laptop for my contracting job so it gets used heavily.

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It'd be helpful if you wrote a bit more about selectively installing some drivers, seeing as you advocate not installing the entire driver package provided by Apple and experience driver problems. – Daniel Beck Dec 13 '11 at 8:14
@DanielBeck it's over two years ago I installed it so I don't remember the details, only what I wrote down. But I can assure you I checked everything and the driver problems I'm having are not due to me selecting drivers (as the problems are in Apple drivers). If you google on the problems I'm talking about you'll see that they are widely reported. It's possible that the latest drivers do not have these problems anymore though. – stijn Dec 13 '11 at 8:21
A word of warning regarding this answer. Much of it is about device drivers, and probably true and based on the user's experience and all, but there are three years between the OP's desired, current model and the model described here. Considering this is about device drivers, a lot might have changed in the meantime. – Daniel Beck Dec 14 '11 at 22:12
Thanks for your answer :)! Now to find the $ for a mac – Baconbeastnz Dec 15 '11 at 3:31

Yes, it is reliable, and you don't lose any performance.

Boot Camp is Apple's implementation of a dual-boot system, so Windows is not set up differently than OS X on your machine. They exist in parallel, on different partitions, similar to when you install Linux beside Windows on a regular PC.

If you're running Windows via Boot Camp, there is no OS X running in parallel. That's only possible with virtual machine software, such as VMware Fusion or Parallels, and with them you lose some performance, especially in regards to graphics, e.g. gaming.

Any specific performance problems are related to hardware drivers in Windows, not Boot Camp (as a technology) itself. You'll use the Apple-provided drivers for almost everything (except maybe graphics), so that could be an issue similar to any other hardware you're using on Windows.

Drivers (and their problems) are model specific, and I don't have the current MBP model, so I cannot say how well they work. Consider looking up your particular model in Apple forums or other discussion sites and see what others are writing.

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Have things changed since I last used it? When I used Boot Camp, most of the drivers for Windows were provided by Apple via Boot Camp. – Matthew Scharley Dec 13 '11 at 8:36
@MatthewScharley I've used it for a long time without any issues back then in 2008-2010. And they're mostly Apple drivers, true, but for me Boot Camp is the specific dual-boot technology and how you set it up. The device drivers are extras, since there wouldn't be anything significantly different when they change. Maybe an issue with terminology here..? – Daniel Beck Dec 13 '11 at 8:57
IMO, the technology is directly related to the drivers provided. When you go to download Bootcamp, the drivers are labeled Bootcamp drivers. – surfasb Dec 13 '11 at 18:32
@surfasb Yes, but that's not the point. They can be used independently. You are free to use different drivers. You can even use the drivers without Boot Camp AFAIK. So while they're bundled, they're independent. – Daniel Beck Dec 13 '11 at 18:51
@DanielBeck: Technically true. Never the less, there is little Windows can do to speed up the "Bootcamp" drivers. They are written neither by Windows, nor maintained by Windows. Thus, the fact they use the Windows Driver Framework is of little relevance in this discussion. – surfasb Dec 13 '11 at 22:13

I have had better luck using Parallels instead of bootcamp. For one, switching between the OS is much easier. Version 7 made some great improvements over version 6. You are wasting the potential of your computer by not running both Lion and Windows 7. Seems Parallels is always running a promotion. Right now you can save money on upgrades and new versions by entering Holidays2011 when you check out.

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