Windows XP Booted on Intel Macs

A challenge to successfully dual-boot Windows XP and Mac OS X on Apple’s new Intel-based Macintosh computers has been met by two enthusiasts known only by the online handles Narf and Blanka. Although the news broke slowly and via questionable images posted to the photo sharing site Flickr, Narf and Blanka’s feat has now been confirmed, and the two have won a pool of $13,854 prize, made up of individual donations.

The dual-boot contest was launched by Mac enthusiast Colin Nederkoorn, who seeded it with $100 of his own money; as speculation grew, so did the contest pool.

Rumors and speculation about dual booting Apple’s new Intel-based Macs under both Apple’s Mac OS X operating system and Microsoft’s Windows XP has been rampant ever since Apple announced a switch to Intel processors in mid-2005, although technical expert had deemed the feat unlikely due to core technical differences between Apple’s systems and everyday Intel-based PCs. Apple’s Macintosh systems use EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) rather than standard PC BOIS: EFI is a BOIS replacement developed by Intel in the late 1990s which can initialize hardware before an operating system is loaded. Only 64-bit versions of Windows currently offer explicit support for EFI. Microsoft recently stated Windows Vista wouldn’t work on Intel-based Macs, except for possibly the server version of the forthcoming operating system, due in 2007.

Although more-streamlined solutions are expected to be developed from Narf and Blanka’s solution, in essence, the winning workaround involves using a Windows PC to create a custom Windows XP boot disk on which several of Microsoft’s original files replaced with versions patched by Narf. The user then installs Windows XP onto a customized disk partition on the Mac. The technical Web site ArsTechnica has posted a summary of the solution; appropriate materials are currently available for download from the contest site. Although the legal ramifications of altering Microsoft’s XP installation discs aren’t clear


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