For those of you following along at home, the backstory goes something like this:
December 5th, 2006 – The Whitman family, weary and sick at heart over the 127 viruses that infect their now defunct Windows-based Dell computer, decide to strike out on a brave new adventure and buy an Apple iMac. Those 50+ Windows-based video games won’t go to waste because the new iMacs have Intel-based processors, allowing the intrepid user to run both Apple OS X and Windows XP, which we already have on the Dell.
Week of December 6 – 12 – Plug ‘n play turns into a week of software installation hell, highlighted by the vagaries of an application called Senuti, which allows one to take one’s music on the iPod and transfer it to iTunes. The music industry doesn’t like this because it’s only supposed to work the other direction, but when one loses iTunes, and the 7,312 songs thereon, on one’s old Dell computer, one works with third-party apps so that one doesn’t have to re-import 750 albums onto Itunes. It’s not easy, but eventually Senuti works as advertised. The jury is still out on whether this process would have been quicker than actually re-importing the 750 albums.
Weeks of semi-befuddlement follow. Where is the Ctrl
Early February 2007 – Numerous answers to inquiries confirm that I want to use Boot Camp, not Parallels, to run my Windows applications on the iMac. I print out the Boot Camp instruction manual, and discover that I need Windows XP Service Pack 2 to make this work. I search for a good deal on Windows XP, and fine a nice, new copy on eBay for about half the price of what it costs on amazon.com, Best Buy, etc. I pull the trigger and order my copy of Windows XP through eBay. It arrives a few days later, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service. Total price: $94.13
Cut to Saturday, February 17th, 2007:
8:00 a.m. – I begin the Boot Camp installation process, trusty Boot Camp manual in hand. I make sure I have all the latest OS X updates and firmware. I burn a copy of all OS X drivers to a new disc, as instructed. I take off the shrink wrap from the very official-looking copy of Windows XP, and insert the disc when prompted to so. Various files are copied. It’s slow, but it looks like it’s going well.
8:45 a.m. – I am prompted to enter my 25-digit alphanumeric product code for Windows XP. I check the back of the CD envelope. I check the back of the manual. I frantically skim through every page of the manual. There is an intriguing note on the back of the Windows XP manual: “Your computer manufacturer has affixed the 25-digit product code to the back of your computer. Please refer to this sticker when prompted to enter the product code during the Windows XP installation process.”
8:46 a.m. – I am greeted by a wave of nausea, a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I realize that I have just bought, and tried to install, a pirated version of Windows XP from eBay. I can’t bypass the product code screen. I can’t exit out of the Windows XP Install screens. I try rebooting the machine. Nope. Won’t let me. I physically unplug the iMac and plug it in again. It magically arrives back at the Product Code screen in the Windows XP install process. This is Not Good.
9:00 a.m. – I head out to Best Buy in a driving snowstorm. I purchase a legitimate copy of Windows XP Service Pack 2, making sure that the product code is clearly visible. I head back home. Total price: $213.48
10:00 a.m. – That ominous “Enter your 25-digit alphanumeric product code” screen still stares me in the face. I eject the pirated Windows XP disc, insert the newly purchased legitimate disc from Best Buy, and type in the 25-digit alphanumeric product code that appears on the back of the packaging. No dice. Product code not recognized.
10:15 a.m. – Phone call to Microsoft technical support. I explain the situation. Apple iMac. Trying to install Windows XP so I can run Boot Camp. Terminally hosed. Microsoft doesn’t support Boot Camp. Call Apple technical support.
10:40 a.m. – Phone call to Apple technical support. I explain the situation. Sounds like a Windows XP issue to them. Besides, Apple doesn’t support Boot Camp. You’re on your own, bud. At about this point, the phrase “booting the machine” has begun to take on a whole new meaning.
11:45. a.m. – Back out again into the snowstorm, this time heading for MicroCenter. The 2-month-old iMac is nicely packaged in its original box. I tote the iMac into the store, fill out the necessary forms, and drop it off at the service desk. Assuming they can figure out how to get out of the Windows XP Install screens, they’ll probably need to re-image the machine, restoring it to its “like new” state, where I’ll then get to relive the joys of Senuti. Total cost for diagnostic evaluation: $64.52
Total time invested in Boot Camp: About 6 hours.
Total cost: $372.13, and still counting
Cost of frustration, aggravation, and inability to get writing done at home: Priceless
1) If the price on eBay looks too good to be true, it probably is.
2) When feeling the hankering to play games, buy an X-Box.