Boot Camp + Vista 64 WILL work on early pre-2008 Mac Pro

Apple began supporting Vista 64 in Boot Camp on some post-2008 Macs, including the Mac Pro. Unfortunately, the 64-bit Boot Camp drivers are found on the OS X install DVD. If you have an early pre-2008 Mac Pro, there is no explicit support for Vista 64.

In reality, you run the Boot Camp installer from a Windows directory on the OS X DVD after you install whatever version of Windows on a Windows partition. So if you can get access to the 64-bit version of Boot Camp, you can copy the Boot Camp Windows directory to a flash drive, or a CD or whatever. You can borrow a friend’s late version of an OS X DVD, or search google for “boot camp 64 bit vista drivers torrent” and download from a torrent. (Apple really should provide a place to download Boot Camp and not force its loyal users to a torrent, but that’s another story.)

There apparently are some issues with the EFI boot support on the early Mac Pros. I’ve had problems trying to install Windows 7 64-bit onto a boot camp partition. (I have 4 drives on my machine, so I can have 4 different boot camp partitions). In fact, I’m still trying to get that to work, and that’s how I ended up installing Vista 64-bit. Since I couldn’t get Win7 64 to even boot from the DVD, I decided to try Vista 64 first.

I currently have 3 Windows partition – 2 on drives with only Windows partitions, and one shared with my Tiger boot drive. My Leopard drive is Mac only. One of the drives has Vista 32 and is my “main” Windows installation. I sometime run it from boot camp when I need all for cores (video editing with Vegas), but mostly run that from VMWare Fusion. I then installed Vista 64 on the other Windows only drive.

Once I had a copy of the 64-bit Boot Camp drivers, everything went very smoothly. My Vista install disk is an original upgrade version, so that took the install once without the serial number, then an upgrade install over that version. The 64-bit version will NOT upgrade over any 32-bit version of Windows, so you need a clean install first. This might be part of the reason that Vista actually supports the no-serial number install – to get Vista 64 installed. Takes twice as long, which is a pain, but in the end, I had a working Vista 64. Without Boot Camp, the video and ethernet worked fine. No sound or bluetooth.

I used Winclone a bunch in this process. Once I got the non-serial number Vista 64 installed (i.e., not activated yet), I installed Boot Camp, made an image with Winclone to be safe (didn’t need that image in the end), then reinstalled with the upgrade serial number, activated, and applied SP1 (SP 2 will be ready any day now). I then used Winclone to shrink the NTFS partition to allow the image to be reinstalled on smaller partition, made the image, then re-expanded the NTFS partition. At this point, I had a fully Boot Camp functional Vista 64.

I then built my Fusion VM for that partition, which required a second activation, which went through automatically. From what I gather, you get a couple of new activations every few months. I’d previously used the serial number for my Vista 32 Boot Camp and VM, but that was a while ago. Whatever, since all these copies of Vista are on the same physical machine, they all are legal. Too many activations may trigger a manual phone activation, but as long as you make it clear you are installing your Vista on only one physical computer, you’ll get the required activation code.

So for my next step, I’m going to try Windows 7 64-bit again. I created a smallish Windows partition for that on my Tiger drive. I’ve used Winclone to copy the working version of Vista 64 to that partition, and it boots smoothly – no 32-bit vs 64-bit EFI problems some folks seem to be experiencing, but which seemed to make a boot from the Win7-64 DVD not work. So I’m going to try to upgrade my second copy of Vista 64 to Win7 64. You supposedly have to edit the Boot Camp installer to get it to work on Win7, so I’ll see. I’ll try to follow up with that experiment.

But I guess the main point of this post was to confirm that you can really use the newer 64-bit Boot Camp drivers on early, pre-2008 Mac Pros.

About brucewampler

I've had a long and varied careen in the computer industry. I taught computer science at the University of New Mexico for nearly 15 years. I founded two successful computer software companies. I wrote the first spelling checker and first grammar checkers for personal computers. I've lived in Glenwood Springs for 10 years. My wife, Trina, grew up here, and I've been coming to Glenwood since 1977. My kids have attended the local public schools, and have had a great experience. My son, Van, will be attending the University of Colorado starting in the fall of 2007, and my daughter is a Sophomore at Glenwood Springs High School. I've been on the Roaring Fork School District Board of Education for almost 5 years. Working with our kids, teachers, schools, principals, administrators, and the Roaring Fork community has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.
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