Hands on: Running Vista on a MacBook Pro

Apple's top-end laptop runs Vista better than a high-end Sony Vaio

Editor's note: This is the first of several stories about the use of Windows Vista on a MacBook Pro. Today's focus: hardware. Part 2: software.

Ever since Apple Computer Inc. released its Boot Camp software in April, thus enabling Intel Mac owners to run Windows on their Apple hardware, I've been working with various permutations of Windows on my 17-in. MacBook Pro. There was the Boot Camp-enabled Windows XP installation, the Parallels virtualized version of XP (no reboot needed) and now there's Vista RC1.

When Microsoft Corp. released a beta version of Vista last spring -- the final version is due in early 2007 -- I was one of those who downloaded it and installed it. At first, all I could do was run it on my year-old Sony Vaio. But that changed a week or two ago when Microsoft released a Pre-Release candidate 1 (RC1) of Vista, Build No. 5536, and then, more recently a full-fledged RC1, Version 5600.

I spotted a news item on a Mac site pointing out that with Boot Camp now updated to Version 1.1, and with an RC1 disk in hand, Mac owners could install Vista and get a real taste for what the competition is up to.

Who can resist a chance to surf the Web with a beta version of something like Firefox, running on a beta version of Microsoft's next operating system, using a beta version of Apple's Boot Camp software? Not I.

I have to say at the outset that after more than a decade as a hard-core Apple fan, running Windows on a MacBook Pro is bit, well, weird. It's sort of like living your whole life as a BMW fan and waking one day to find yourself behind the wheel of a shiny new Chevy, or wearing sunglasses after dark. You can do it, but it just somehow seems wrong.

Still, in 2006, this is where we stand: Apple's hardware runs Windows, and does so quite well. In fact, the MacBook Pro I bought in May is better equipped to run Vista than the Sony Vaio I bought less than a year ago. At the time, the Vaio VGN-A790 was pretty much a top-of-the-line machine from Sony, with a 2-GHz Pentium M chip from Intel, 1GB of RAM, a 7,200-rpm hard drive and 256MB of dedicated video RAM. I have since doubled the RAM to 2GB.

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