Learn About Apple’s Boot Camp

Boot Camp is a software program that was introduced by Apple in April, 2006. The program allows Mac users to run Windows on a Mac computer. The software is included with OS X Lion and Mountain Lion. Since Boot Camp was introduced, it has been updated to include additional functionality. It was also offered as a standard software feature with the Apple MacOS  X 10.5 “Leopard” when it was introduced the year after Boot Camp.

Boot Camp Functionality
While Apple does not market or sell Windows products, the company does recognize that some Mac customers require Windows capability in certain circumstances. Boot Camp was one of the first programs available for this purpose, and while other products have been introduced since that time to provide similar functionality (Parallels and VMware, for example), Boot Camp still offers superb performance for Mac users who want to include Windows options.

Once Boot Camp is used to install Windows onto the Mac, users can easily alternate between Windows and Mac OS X operating systems by simply holding the option (Alt) key while starting up the Mac or switching between the two systems. With a virtually seamless transition, users can easily access both systems in a single session. Users can also set either system to the default system, based on which one they use the most.

To ensure efficiency in the Windows operating system, Boot Camp includes a number of Mac drivers for Windows, including the following Apple drivers:

  • Bluetooth
  • Trackpad
  • Remote Driver
  • Keyboard Support

The software also includes drivers like ATI Graphics, Broadcom wireless, Cirrus Logic Audio and others commonly used on Mac systems. Other features, such as iTunes music and video, may need to be authorized for use on both the Mac and Windows systems by the user. By the same token, Windows drivers may need to be installed to ensure functionality of wireless accessories like a mouse and keyboard.

Benefits of Boot Camp
Since Boot Camp was introduced more than five years ago, a number of benefits of the software have been recognized. First, even early reviews suggest that performance on a Mac using Boot Camp and a computer specifically designed for Windows is virtually the same. Those reviews came after Mac computers were compared with similar products by Acer, Dell and Hewlett Packard – all similar hardware designed to use Windows as their primary operating system. Although there were some differences in the quality of gaming between the two, the differences were attributed to memory on the graphics chips, rather than the actual operating systems.

Additional benefits offered by Boot Camp include:

  • Cost – Boot Camp is now a standard feature on the Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard, so functionality is virtually doubled without spending a penny more on hardware or software.
  • Compatibility - With many Apple drivers included and few dual booting effects to worry about, Boot Camp follows the Apple trademark of ultimate compatibility with various hardware and software systems.
  • Speed – Boot Camp offers similar speed function with Windows as other systems designed with Windows as the chief operating system.

Operating Instructions for Boot Camp
The operating process for installing and using Boot Camp is clearly outlined on the Apple website. However, a basic operating overview can be described as follows:

  • Install all current updates for Apple. This is easily achieved by beginning on Apple’s support page for Boot Camp and running updates by choosing the correct selection. If necessary, restart computer once updates are complete.
  • Select Boot Camp Assistant from the Utilities folder, and follow instructions as prompted.
  • A Windows partition must be constructed on the hard drive of the computer in order to run Windows programs. A prompt will come up automatically during the installation process to explain this process.
  • Install Windows onto the Mac system, following the instructions that appear in the next part of the process.
  • Add Windows drivers as necessary to make the computer fully functional with the Windows operating system.
  • Once the operating system is installed, the user can choose which operating system will open the computer by default, and switch between operating systems as needed.

Boot Camp is an effective way to add Windows functionality to a Mac without sacrificing performance. With Boot Camp offered as a standard features on new Mac systems today, it is easy to enjoy both types of operating systems on Mac hardware that is reliable, instinctive and efficient.
Additional Resources

  • Apple. Support page for Apple owners using Bootcamp software.
  • Apple Press Info. Includes press release announcing the arrival of Bootcamp software by Apple.
  • Tech Republic. Online news service featuring information about press releases and product information related to the technology industry.
  • EveryMac.com. A complete online guide to Apple products, including the Mac, iPod, iPad and iPhone.
  • CNET. Product of CBS, CNET offers online information about topics of interest related to technology.
  • PC World. Online publication offering news and information about the world of PCs.