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Installing Windows XP on a MacBook Pro with Lion

Posted March 15, 2012 by John Woltman

Apple's Boot Camp does not officially support Windows XP on computers shipped with OS X 10.7 ("Lion").  Keep reading for instructions on installing Windows XP on a late 2011 MacBook Pro.

UPDATED: Read Steve's comment for more info on getting XP running on a 2011 13 inch MacBook Pro.

Background

I wanted to run Windows XP at full speed on my new 17" MacBook Pro, so that I can play video games.  Apple does not support Windows XP installation with Boot Camp anymore.  There is a thread on Apple's support site about the issue (and some confusing bickering as well).

My Hardware

The drivers you install depend on the hardware you have.  Here's the relevant info from my 2011 MBP:

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 @ 2.4Ghz
  • Chipset: Intel HM65 Express
  • GPU: AMD Radeon HD6770M w/1GB VRAM
  • Display: 19" High Resolution @ 1920x1200

Caveats

The FaceTime camera did not work when I was finished.  I don't need it, so I didn't spend any time working on them.  Windows will only see approximately 2.16GB of RAM.  This is because some of the hardware (like the Intel HD 3000 IGP) takes a substantial chunk of memory.  If there was a way to disable the Intel IGP (like you can in a BIOS-based computer) it might be possible to free up another 512MB of memory.

Disks You Need

You need a couple disks to get started.

  1. Snow Leopard install disk, or Boot Camp 3.0 disk.  You can get them from one of the old Macs you own.
  2. Windows 7 install disk.  This is to make Lion's Boot Camp Assistant happy.  It won't repartition your hard drive without it.

Files You Need

After Windows is installed you need drivers for your hardware.

  1. Broadcom WiFi driver for enabling the AirPort adapter.
  2. Broadcom Ethernet driver for enabling the 1000/100/10 ethernet adapter.  You may have to go Broadcom's legacy page, depending on your chipset.
  3. Boot Camp 3.1 and 3.2 updates.
  4. AMD Catalyst 12.1 beta drivers for the GPU. If there are newer beta drivers, you might want to use them instead.  Use Google to find the latest.
  5. Intel INF Update Utility for the basic chipset components (audio, USB, etc.).

The following drivers come from tips from Mac.Apex on the Apple support thread.

  1. Bluetooth Installer may help get your Bluetooth working.
  2. Broadcom Card Reader driver  if you have a built-in SD card slot.
  3. Alternate Audio drivers - courtesy of StuffedCow.net.
  4. Intel Management Engine driver - may be required on certain laptops.

Instructions

  1. Run Boot Camp Assistant.
  2. Insert Windows 7 CD.
  3. Select partition size.  I used 120GB.
  4. When your computer starts, hold down trackpad to eject CD.
  5. Insert Windows XP CD.
  6. Boot from CD.
  7. Install Windows like normal.
  8. Note: Ignore any of Windows' prompts to install device drivers.  You'll give it the software it needs later in the process.
  9. Install Boot Camp 3.0.
  10. Install Boot Camp 3.1 & 3.2 updates.
  11. Install Windows XP Service Pack 3 (if you installed Windows without it).  Read http://support.apple.com/kb/HT3841 if you run  into problems.
  12. Install the Catalyst drivers.
  13. Install the Intel INF drivers.
  14. Install the Broadcom WiFi and Ethernet drivers.
  15. Let Windows install the millions of updates it needs to be happy.
  16. Install Steam
  17. Play games.

I hope this helps someone.  It's not ideal, and it may be wiser to buck up and install Windows 7 64-bit, but this Windows XP is still a viable option on Lion-based computers.