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Question: Installing Windows 7 on 2011 MBP without Boot Camp

I have a mid (late?) 2011 MBP 15" I got in August. I instantly installed a seperate parition with Snow Leopard on it, because I really dislike Lion. I still have the Lion and Recovery partition, just incase. I've done all my Windows needs through VM's, but I just got a device that will only work natively, through dual booting. However, because I already have the Lion/Snow Leopard paritions, Boot Camp is just yelling at me. I have no idea where else to get the support drivers, I figured maybe they're on the Recovery partition and will show up in Windows (it's supposed to be the "install disc"). So I made a small FAT partition in Disk Utility, booted the windows install disc, followed through the prompts, then when it came to select a disk, It said I couldn't select that partition because the disk is of the GPT partition style. I tried to click format, didn't seem to do anything.. Why is it giving me this error? Doesn't Windows 7 support GPT and EFI now? And where can I find the support drivers since Boot Camp won't let me download them?

MacBook Pro, Mac OS X (10.6.8)

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Dec 26, 2011 6:57 AM in response to FuzzyRhombus In response to FuzzyRhombus

It sounds like you need to read the Boot Camp Installation Guide, (http://www.apple.com/support/bootcamp/) especially the parts about the need for a single partition and how to get the drivers. The drivers are on your OSx install disk and are installed from within Windows.

Dec 26, 2011 6:57 AM

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Dec 26, 2011 10:15 AM in response to FuzzyRhombus In response to FuzzyRhombus

Windows 7 supports BIOS and UEFI 2.x firmware. Apple's hardware uses Intel EFI 1.10 even on new 2011 hardware, and that EFI is not supported by Windows 7. Apple provides an EFI compatibility support module (a CSM) which bridges between EFI and a BIOS they provide. This CSM-BIOS boot mode is what's used for supporting Windows 7 bootability.


Windows booting BIOS mode expects the boot disk to have an MBR. When booting UEFI mode, it expects the boot disk to be GPT. This presents the small problem that for a single drive to have both a Windows BIOS installation, and a Mac OS EFI installation, the disk needs both MBR and GPT partition schemes. This is a non-standard situation according to the UEFI spec.


A conforming GPT disk also has an MBR, but with a single special entry, a protective entry. Sometimes this is called the Protective MBR because its sole job is to present the disk as completely allocated to legacy MBR applications that know nothing about GPT. Bootcamp Assistant, when it resizes a disk, alters both the GPT to reflect the new partition being created for Windows, and it creates a hybrid MBR - which is an MBR that has more than one entry.


This is what the Windows installer wants in order to proceed: an MBR entry for the space allocated for Windows installation. When you create a FAT partition in Disk Utility, it only makes an entry for it in the GPT, it does not make an entry for it in the MBR.


Because hybrid MBRs are non-standard, and considered flakey and dangerous, there is a rather narrow path for them to be as safe as they can be. Given your new partition layout because you have two Mac OS installations on it, Bootcamp Assistant may not want to proceed.

Dec 26, 2011 10:15 AM

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Dec 26, 2011 2:05 PM in response to FuzzyRhombus In response to FuzzyRhombus

Ergo you could install Windows 7 without Boot Camp if you install it to a disk other than the one that contains Mac OS X. In that case, the other disk can be dedicated MBR only, and Boot Camp Assistant isn't needed to set it up. However, you'll still need to install the Apple provided drivers from within Windows.

Dec 26, 2011 2:05 PM

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Question: Installing Windows 7 on 2011 MBP without Boot Camp