How to troubleshoot an iMac/Boot Camp/Win7 installation
May 20, 2012 9:00 AM   Subscribe

Help troubleshooting an iMac/Windows XP/Windows 7/Bootcamp/Parallels installation, please?

I have a mid-2007 iMac running Snow Leopard, on which I previously ran Windows Vista via Boot Camp. For reasons I won't go into I wiped the Vista Boot Camp partition while trying to upgrade to Windows 7. So I need to install Windows XP before I can upgrade to Win7 (I bought an upgrade Win7 disk rather than a full version). I have a full version of WinXP, in the form of a slipstreamed SP3 version created using my original SP1 disk.

I have installed Win7 successfully on Parallels (first installing XP and then upgrading to Win7), and I anticipate that I'll be able to do most of what I want to do using Mac OS and Win7 via Parallels. However, I would like to be able to run Win7 via Boot Camp as well, and am having problems doing this.

The nature of the problem is hard to pin down, but basically at various points during the Boot Camp Assistant process (I've been following the instructions given in the Apple Boot Camp support docs) the whole system appears to crash, and it never completes the XP installation. The optical drive makes loud buzzing noises, making me wonder if it's the disk that's at fault, though I used the very same disk to install XP on Parallels.

I'm an experienced Windows user, and a less experienced Mac OS user. Any help you can give would be much appreciated! I'll try and respond to any additional questions tomorrow morning.
posted by altolinguistic to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
Not sure what the problem could be, but two thoughts:

1) Are you *sure* you need to boot into Win7? I run Win7 under Snow Leopard Parallels all the time, and it's fine for everything I need to do. Do you have a specific need, or you just kinda want it?

2) Try downloading the latest bootcamp installer and driver package from It's a little confusing but if you start searching for Bootcamp on the apple site it'll come up.
posted by gribbly at 9:16 AM on May 20, 2012

Skip the XP install step entirely, and install the 7 upgrade clean. Here's how. In a nutshell: when installing, don't put in your product key or activate. Only put it the key once you've booted into the fresh install.
posted by zsazsa at 9:26 AM on May 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

zsazsa, thanks, I'll try it - had found that link but hadn't tried the procedure, because I wasn't sure whether to trust the source.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:51 AM on May 20, 2012

gribbly, I think you're right and I should be able to do everything I need to do using Parallels; the problem is that it's a leased machine and I ought really to give it back in the same state I found it, i.e. with some kind of Windows Boot Camp partition.
posted by altolinguistic at 9:53 AM on May 20, 2012

A friend at work has done it. Before he knew about it, he also did the trick of installing the 7 upgrade, not activating it, then upgrading the upgrade.
posted by zsazsa at 9:54 AM on May 20, 2012

Thanks, both. Unfortunately this has defeated me: I can't get far enough into the installation process to update Boot Camp (which has to be done from the Windows side) and the installation hangs before I get the chance to input a product key (or not).

Luckily Parallels is working really well for me, so all will be well until I have to 'fess up to wiping the Vista partition when I give the machine back...
posted by altolinguistic at 8:34 AM on May 22, 2012

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