If you have an Apple Mac Pro, instead of wrestling getting the 32-bit version of Vista (or XP) on the machine, where you can only access 2GB of RAM, just put the Vista x64 version on! It works phenomenally well right out of the box. Here’s a few pointers on what I did on my 2.66 Mhz Mac Pro, 4GB RAM, ATI X1900 machine if you’re thinking about doing it. Note that I put Vista on its own hard disk and did not partition up an existing drive. 

  • Booted into OS X, and told it to use the new disk as the Windows partition. Boot Camp set up and booted directly off the x64 DVD
  • I have an ATI X1900 with dual monitors. Vista setup flaked out with both monitors on the card by flashing the screens like a disco so I had to disconnect the second monitor and reboot. Now that Vista is on the machine, the initial boot that shows the green bar is flaky, but settles down as soon as the main screen shows up.
  • I don’t know if it was because I have a two drive RAID 0 for my OS X disk or because the USB keyboard was hung, but the initial Vista setup screens took ten to fifteen minutes to come up. Once I unplugged and plugged in the Mac USB keyboard, things went fine.
  • The core Vista system has all the drivers built in except for the sound drivers and Bluetooth (I do not have an Airport Express card in the machine). Realtek, the sound system manufacturer, already provide Vista drivers so surf to the Realtek download site to get them. Thanks to the Apple Support Mac Pro discussion forum for the link. I haven’t been able to find any Bluetooth drivers, but since I’m not using Bluetooth keyboard or mouse, it’s no big deal for me. I’ll post if I can find an appropriate driver.
  • The performance rating was only a measly 5.5. 🙂 Turns out the disk was the lowest rated item! Everything else was a 5.9 with the graphics a 5.8.
  • Booting into OS X, followed by booting into Vista has the same time mess-ups as you would on a 32-bit system. I solved that by taking AppleTime.exe from my MacBook Pro and setting it to run in HKLMSOFTWAREWow6432NodeMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionRun. If you don’t have a Macbook Pro to steal AppleTime.exe from, create the Windows XP driver disk from Boot Camp and run ‘”Install Macintosh Drivers for Windows XP.exe” /A /v’ from the CD. The AppleTime.exe is in the <extracted directory>System32 directory.
  • Obviously, there won’t be any keyboard support for the Mac keyboard, as on 32-bit that’s done by a device driver. The volume keys work, but the eject key doesn’t. No big deal because you can right click on the DVD drive and select Eject from the context menu. I guess I could hook up a Windows keyboard, but I like the feel of the Apple keyboard.
  • Explorer shows two additional removable drives on my system, which I think are the RAID 0 drives. However, for obvious reasons, I’ve not poked at them very much!

I’ve mentioned to several of my friends that I bought a Mac Pro and they questioned my profligate ways. When I went out and priced computers, it turned out that the Mac Pro was cheaper than comparable machines from traditional PC manufacturers. Not only did I save money, it’s the quietest desktop I’ve ever owned and it sure looks good. Best of all, I have the best of both worlds in a single box: OS X and Vista!

<edit 2/15/07: The 2GB limit in 32-bit Vista/XP is not a Windows limitation, but a Mac BIOS problem. Sorry for the confusion.>