Upgrading to Windows 10 on a Boot Camped MacBook Pro

Windows 10

This post is an overview of my experience, with the process of adapting when forced to update – a process (hopefully more helpful than invasive) that many of you are probably familiar with. The update, in this case, is to Windows 10 on my Boot Camped MacBook Pro.

I don’t know about you but, I’m not an early adopter when it comes to my show machines.

Not only do they support me with rental income but, they are the literal conduit from my lovingly designed PowerPoint file, to the live screen at an event.

I skipped Windows 8/8.1 altogether, never heard a good thing about it. I had a few clients that wanted some assistance setting up some functions on their new computers. It was a miserable experience trying to figure out the interface and the menu hierarchy. I never had the opportunity to test its speed and functionality, I couldn’t get past the interface.

In addition to loving Windows 7 (there I said it) I have been so impressed with everything Microsoft has been doing these last few months. On top of the past few years of realignment at a corporate level, that as soon as the good reviews started to come in for Windows 10, I decided to give Microsoft a chance and upgrade my show machines. I also had a week between shows, that helps.

To begin with, my show machines are MacBook Pros with Retina screens. Both have 2GB of video memory and both have 16GB of RAM. I still get enough business doing Keynote shows so, its worth it to have the ability to boot in two OSs. TWO machines in ONE! I like all resources to be allocated to the function of the main “to screen” computer’s operation. I Boot Camp the machines to take full advantage of the native processors. Rather than a Parallels or Fusion scenario, where the CPU has to handle two OSs at once. The entire process is as simple as this:

  • Check for software updates (on the Apple side)
  • Get a Windows ISO image
  • Prepare your Mac for Windows
  • Install Windows
  • Install Windows support software

You’ll want to start here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204990. This article is bypasses, to a large extent, the setup of Boot Camp – we’ll cover this in another post.

A little side story: I had a separate pre-retina MacBook Pro and an invitation in my task bar to upgrade to Windows 10. I took the bait and clicked “install” knowing I was backed up and covered, perfectly willing to reinstall if necessary (lazy). The installer goes through its motions and restarts. Welcome screen? Check. Spinning circles and blue screen? Check. Then… black screen. That glowing black that tells you it’s not off but it certainly ain’t showing nuthin’!

I took that moment to check to see if it was compatible. It wasn’t. No retina, no Windows 10. While looking into solutions I restarted twice just to be sure, and on the third time it said “Re-installing old Operating System”. Damn, if it didn’t restore the machine to exactly the same spot un-harmed and Windows 10-free.

Well done Microsoft, you handled that perfectly. Protected me from myself, thank you. Onward!

The link above will tell you if your machine is compatible as well as give you the instructions for installing Boot Camp and Windows 10 either, as a fresh install or as an upgrade. You’ll need some specific things like USB drives formatted a certain way and other particulars, read the link carefully before you begin. There’s also a link in the Boot Camp Assistant to the Boot Camp help page: https://help.apple.com/bootcamp/mac/5.0/help/#/bcmp173b3bf2, read it before you begin.

One of the two machines I was upgrading was a fresh out of the box install and the other was a Windows 7 to Windows10 upgrade.

You can follow the instructions here: https://help.apple.com/bootcamp/mac/5.0/help/#apdecf0e4b6-b472-438d-881e-57c230b1c250, for installing Boot Camp on your Retina MBP if you are unfamiliar. Microsoft suggests 20GB for the installation on your hard drive so if you’re partitioning keep that in mind, I gave it a full half of my SSD space on each machine.

1. You start in a familiar place of making sure your Apple side is up-to date.

2. Download yourself a Windows 10 installer ISO file. http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/Windows-10-Pro/productID.319935900

3. Begin on your Apple side, run Utilities>Boot Camp Assistant. 


4. If you are upgrading or if you are doing a clean install of Windows 10 on a fresh drive will determine your next steps:

Selected Tasks

  1. If this is a clean install of Windows, this step creates a USB drive (8GB please and USB3 if you’re smart) with the Windows ISO you just downloaded on it, the MacBook Pro drivers for Windows and the setup wizard. Your machine will restart a few times during this process. One of those restarts waits for confirmation from you, and installs the Apple MacBook Pro drivers for your machine.
  2. If this is an upgrade, I simply performed the “Create a Windows 8 or later install disk” task. This step creates a USB stick with the Windows ISO you just downloaded on it, the MacBook Pro drivers for Windows and the setup wizard. Then I restarted in Windows 7, opened the thumb drive and ran “setup”. Your machine will restart a few times during this process. Same deal, one of those restarts waits for confirmation from you, and installs the Apple MacBook Pro drivers for your machine.

Boom, done.

First thing I did was change the desktop display to 1920 x 1200. I’m too old for the default resolution over 2200 px wide. I can’t read any of it. The trusty right click on the desktop brought me to the familiar “Screen Resolution” contextual menu. Next I logged into my Office365 admin panel and installed.

I’m impressed Microsoft, this was an easy process. Not only did everything go as expected but everything went quickly, in total 35 min for each machine – including partitioning, downloading (I was at home on a fast connection) and installation of Windows 10 and Office365.

Of course my PPTXtreme tools were installed next, I went to the download page http://pptxtreme.com/downloads/ and then rummaged through my emails and found my original confirmation from PPTXtreme with my verification keys. Back in super-efficient action!

Once restarted in Windows 10 I was able to get my bearings, thanks to the return of the Start Menu and the familiar layout there and the general simplification of the interface. Stay tuned, I’m going on the road with these two in the next week, I’ll let you know how it goes, but so far I’m very happy. PowerPoint files are opening, saving and running smoothly. Don’t forget to turn off notices and address sleep modes and such.

Stay tuned for an “are you show-ready?” checklist in the months to come!


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