My main computer is a Mac Mini that I got as a gift, and I've recently begun chafing at my inability to play Windows games. I'm cheap and not crazy about clutter, so rather than buy a whole new machine I thought I'd install Windows 8 on it and dual boot. How hard could it be?
In the end, I'm pretty happy at the result - Loadout is running buttery smooth - but getting here was quite a battle. If you dare follow me into the trench, you'll probably want to know some stuff.
But the most important thing to know is that doing it this way seems to require a call to Microsoft technical support. So there's got to be a better way. But more on that later.
My go-to how-to article was this one. But it leaves some questions unanswered. First, there's the problem of not having a disc drive on the Mini. Happily, Boot Camp let me put the Windows 8 ISO file on a thumb drive and boot from there. But how did I get the Windows 8 ISO file? Microsoft doesn't just want to let me download it.
So I went to my old not-fast-enough-to-play-games-anymore-doesn't-even-run-Diablo-3 laptop and started the Upgrade process from there. That let me download a Setup program that then let me download the ISO file which I could then copy to the Mac.
Then I ran Boot Camp as normal, but am not sure what happened because I left the computer and when I came back it was on a black screen. After waiting several minutes I rebooted and it default booted to the empty windows partition. So I manually booted to the thumb drive by holding Alt (AKA Option) at the sound of the Mac boot-up chime, and it seemed to run the Windows 8 Install correctly, but then the program told me, after I formatted the Bootcamp partition, that it couldn't install Windows there because of confusing stuff involving "bios" and "efi" and various other acronyms.
I was about ready to give up there, but just for the hell of it booted back to the Mac OS, went back to Boot Camp, removed and re-added the partition, and this time when it restarted it booted off the thumb drive just fine, and after formatting the partition (Drive Options -> Format) it let me install just fine.
(Then I forgot to run \WindowsSupport\Setup.exe off the thumb drive after Windows 8 was running. So ... don't forget to do that.)
And then I installed Chrome and Steam and played some Loadout and things seemed happy.
But I hadn't actually 'activated' Windows 8 yet. I'm not sure what happens when you don't activate it, it probably simply stops running after some grace period, but when I went to try and activate it with the code I bought on the other machine it didn't work.
After talking to Microsoft support I learned you can run "slui 3" to try to activate Windows and actually get an informative error code. Mine explained that I can't use an Upgrade version of Windows to do a clean install. Ok. But then the support people I talked to (after various confirmation steps and hoops jumped through) gave me a different code to activate my copy.
So, like I said, it seems if you try to do it this way, talking to Microsoft tech support is a necessary step in the process. At least I could do it all over chat while browsing my twitter feed at the same time.
Which makes me wonder, just how are you supposed to do a clean install? It seems like the only thing you can download is the Upgrade. Am I supposed to go to an actual physical store or something? That's ... so last century.
Still, running Windows 8 now! Woo! Time to try Antichamber.
Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine 1001 Games You Must Play Before You DieNomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game