Installing Windows 7 on a Modbook / Macbook

My Modbook from OCW took less than five days to arrive.  Less than five days after receiving it, it also saw a ~USD100 price drop.  Lol!  Can’t win ’em all.

So anyway, one of the priorities was to get Windows working on this machine.  Since the Modbook has 4GB on it, I elected to install a 64-bit Windows OS on it to make full use of the RAM.  Even though some of the info out there may lead you to think that only 64-bit Vista is supported, it turns out that Windows 7 x64 RC installs and works great on the Modbook (and of course on the Macbook as well).

Just so we’re clear on the hardware environment, the Macbook base for this machine I have is the 2Ghz Core 2 Duo with the Nvidia 9400M graphics chipset and it comes with the Leopard OS X 10.5.6 DVD.  Following are the steps I took to get things working.  Steps 1-3 are covered in the Boot Camp Setup and Install Guide although Step 3 will be a bit different.

Step 1. Use Boot Camp Assistant to create the partition for Windows 7

Step 2. Boot from the Windows 7 DVD and install Windows 7 in the usual manner

At this point, after the stock Windows 7 install, the modbook’s digitizer and WiFi actually work without worrying about drivers, a very pleasant surprise!  However, there are certain glitches you may encounter.  The optical out on the left side of the modbook will turn on which may be a battery drain.  No sound even if sound drivers seem to be installed already.  These two are easily fixed it turns out by installing the drivers from the Mac OS X Install DVD – Step 3.

Step 3. At this point, if you were installing one of the “supported” OSes (e.g. Vista or XP), you just have to click on Boot Camp\setup.exe in the Install DVD.  Under Windows 7 however, the setup.exe refuses to run complaining about incompatibility.  You can be sneaky about it and just directly run \Boot Camp\Drivers\Apple\BootCamp64.msi which will work.

Step 4. For my particular Modbook model, I also had to separately run \Boot Camp\Drivers\NVidia\NvidiaMobileSetup64.exe and \Boot Camp\Drivers\NVidia\NvidiaChipset64.exe to get the graphics and chipset drivers installed.  If you want even newer graphics drivers, you can download the latest Nvidia mobile drivers from itself.

At this stage, everything should be pretty much working except in my case, I had one additional important hurdle to overcome.  By clicking on the Boot Camp icon in the notification tray, you will be able to boot back to OS X from Windows 7.  The reverse was, however,  sadly not possible.

You are supposed to boot back to Windows 7 from OS X by clicking on System Preferences | Startup Disk, but in this case, the Windows partition wouldn’t show up there.  You can still choose which OS to boot by plugging in a USB keyboard and holding down the Option key (equivalent to Alt on a PC keyboard) or using rEFIt, but these are very suboptimal solutions for a keyboard-less tablet.  It turns out the way to get around this and have essentially the same function as Startup Disk is to manually bless the Windows partition instead via the command line:

sudo bless --mount /Volumes/NameOfWindowsHD --setBoot --legacy

You should be able to put this in a clickable script (haven’t figured out how to do that in OS X yet).  Now we are in computing nirvana.

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