Bootcamp Nightmare

Remember back in the days when Bootcamp was a fantastic utility that just worked and made installing Windows on a Mac easier than on a PC? Those days seem to be long gone.

Part of the problem seems to be the need to use a bootable USB flash drive now that we’re in the post physical media age. Today, trying to install either Windows 7 or Windows 10 on a 2013 MacBook Air running Sierra has been a complete nightmare. No matter what I tried, different ISOs for different versions of Windows on different USB drives by different brands, the Mac simply failed to recognise the drive as bootable.

In the end I was only able to get it working by abandoning Bootcamp and using Microsoft’s own utility on a machine already running Windows, the not terribly well named Windows USB/DVD Download Tool, to create the bootable USB drive from the ISO.

Then I had a new problem. Those bootable USB drives are always left with a hidden 200 MB protected partition which is ignored on Macs, so you don’t know it’s a problem, but on Windows that first 200 meg partition is all that is seen. No matter how you reformat the drive, on Windows or Mac, that partition is not removed and the drive remains pretty damn useless. I first discovered this problem a few months ago the hard way, after the last time I installed Windows on something. Removing the hidden partition to restore your flash drive to full functionality is another massive headache, but I have found this method that works on Windows.

Windows 10 Impressions

Today I installed the latest technical preview of Windows 10 on a VM and had an initial poke about. Set up and installation was very easy, once I figured out you had to select ‘Windows 8.1’ in VirtualBox rather than ‘Windows Other’. I’ve used beta versions and previews of Windows for a while now, since Windows 7, but this is the first that really feels like beta software. All of the others have been nearly there, and certainly usable, but Windows 10 is full of bugs and stuttering. You definitely cannot use it in anger at this time.

However, it does look and feel pretty good for the most part, a nice incremental update on Windows 8 which works a lot better on the desktop. I would have liked to have seen Continum in action, the feature for tablets which toggles on-the-fly certain features based on whether or not a keyboard is detected or there is some other indication of a change from tablet to laptop mode. Not possible in a VM for obvious reasons, and I don’t have a spare Windows tablet lying around which I could get away with breaking.

Virtual desktops are nice, but long overdue. But I would say that wouldn’t I? I’ve been in love with Spaces on Mac OS X since Leopard in 2009, and I can remember using virtual desktops on Linux back in the early naughties when I had a piece of crap Compaq than came with the abominable Windows 98.

The new Start menu with integrated tiles is also very nice, as is the way TIFKAM* apps work in windows mode now, much more natural and consistent.

Some more details on TechRadar:

http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/windows-10-release-date-price-news-and-features-1029245

http://www.techradar.com/news/software/operating-systems/10-great-new-features-in-windows-10-1267365

* The Interface Formerly Known as Metro. Modern UI just doesn’t have the same ring to it.