|Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together! Windows on Mac, part 2|
|A Creative COW Feature Article|
Boston, MA USA
© CreativeCOW.net. All rights reserved.
Article Focus: In part 2 of our look at Windows on Mac, Creative Cow's Tim Wilson digs deeper into questions like 64-bit computing, drive formatting, and backing up your content. You'll find tips and tricks for dual-platform success, as well as answers to a few questions raised by part 1 of this series.
In case you missed it, here's part 1 of this series.
I'm not the only one to notice how much zippier Windows is on a MacBook Pro than it ever was for me on a PC. Some of it is that is because my MacBook Pro is newer than my PC. But I'm convinced that some of it comes from an absolutely clean install on an absolutely clean partition. So start by taking your mother's advice: always wash your hard drive before you eat...or after you go to the bathroom.
The cleanest installation will stay cleaner if you're installing less. You know why YOU want to use Windows on a Mac, right? Which means you have a pretty good idea of which parts of the Windows install you don't need. So don't install 'em.
Two freeware apps,one each for XP and Vista make it easy to create customized installers, stripped as far down as you want. If you need to add something back later, it's easy enough – assuming you didn't torch your DVD or ethernet drivers.
Kidding! They're both plainly labeled, as are the other things you'll be looking at.
Your installation will take up less space on your disk, and use less RAM -- a good thing no matter whose hardware you're using to run Windows.
Reeses Peanut Butter Cups were created in 1928, but made their first big impression with a series of TV commercials in the 1970s. The combination of chocolate and peanut butter is “two great tastes that taste great together.” Hey, you got Windows on my Mac! No wait! You got Mac on my PC! You get the idea.
It might not be available by the time you read this, but check out this special Elvis edition of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with banana crème!
I could have stood a bit more banana, but still, c'mon! It's Elvis, Reese's and banana creme! What are you waiting for? You can get 'em by the case at Amazon.
There's not much to talk about for a PC user who wants to use a MacBook Pro to run Windows. Launch the Boot Camp Assistant (Finder > Applications > Utilities > Boot Camp Assistant), size your partition, load your Windows installation disk, and there you go.
I won't go into details here, but you can run Windows on a Mac without the Mac OS on there at all. It's easy enough to do and you can surely think of 2 ways to do it right off the top of your head. But this part of the proceedings is about 2 great tastes tasting good together. In part 1 of this series, I asked why any Mac user might want to use Windows. There are plenty, and folks in the comments added even more.
So to ask the question in the other direction this time, why might the Window-iest among us consider using the Mac OS as something more than a launching pad for installing Windows?
Final Cut Pro is the obvious treat. Need I say more? In keeping with our MacBook Pro theme for now, it works great with many kinds of SD and HD footage.
Motion works less well on a laptop – more VRAM, please -- but is still loads of fun. Color doesn't work at all on a laptop – you need twin 1920x1200 monitors or better -- but of course works dandily on a tower. Round-tripping in Color obviously won't work, as it does with FCP, but passing file sequences works as well as it can – a very nice dual-platform workflow.
I considered saying something about how much Apple's approach – you can use FCS a little on some systems, and a LOT on others – is identical to MSFT's “Vista Capable” vs. “Vista Ready” distinction...yet I don't see a federal case being made for Apple. Microsoft shouldn't either. Both companies did fine. Everybody calm down.
I really thought about this a really long time. Then I decided not to mention it.
LiveType may be the hidden gem in the Final Cut Studio. The defaults are what they are, but it doesn't take much tweaking to come up with some pretty remarkable title animations. The cool thing for Win users is that it's easy to use, and easy to get the output to Win. Just export a QT with an alpha channel from LiveType, ready to use with your favorite NLE on either platform.
There's plenty more Mac-only software from Apple, and in some ways its more compelling for most Windows users. For example, iTunes works much better on Mac. If you have an iPod, using the Mac flavor will be more than worth your while.
For only $79, iOffice is a steal.
Almost none of it is up to the heaviest of business lifting – nor is it meant to be --but in many ways it's a step up from OpenOffice. In particular, Keynote is great presentation software that adds the famous Mac smoothness without giving up much power. The built-in image editing tools are especially nice. The whole suite has a 30 day free trial, so no excuses not to check it out.
Sure, some of it's cheesy...but you telling me PowerPoint isn't cheesy?
At the same time, Business Week reminds us that the first version of Micosoft Office was on MAC, back in 1989. The last time I checked, Mac users buy software from Microsoft than from any other vendor but Apple itself.
As for the newest version of Mac Office, Business Week goes on to say it “offers Apple computer owners a host of special features Windows Office users will envy.” My favorite example is that you can send your PowerPoint presentation through iPhoto, and from there to your iPod. I'm not 100% sure why you'd want to put PowerPoint on your iPod, but there are probably still some of you who feel the same thing about Windows on a Mac.
In the meantime, who am I to stand in the way of impractical elegance? “Such flourishes reinforce the idea that even on an Intel platform running Microsoft programs, Mac users are getting something special.”
My point here isn't to tell Mac users they should be using Office. If you work in an office, you surely already do. Just that if Windows users will just stroll over to the Mac side of their MacBook Pros to use Microsoft Office, they'll find that “it's exceptional,” and that “Microsoft beats the world with a Mac product beyond compare.”
Listening, Maccies? Microsoft is beating the world FOR you. Who knew?
Last but hardly least, iLife offers its own pleasures, also for $79. Even if the only thing you use is iMovie, it's more than worth the money – especially if you're working with the new AVCHD format or HDV and just need to edit. Or do slideshows, voiceover recording and real-time titles and transitions. Or have integrated uploads to YouTube, iPod or in HD to Apple TV.
The fact is that iMovie is more than enough for most people who don't need much compositing or any direct support for film, file-based editing, Pro Res and the like. And more than enough reason to drop a few extra dollars to poke around the Mac side of the boot.
Seriously. Even FCP whizzes should check it out. There are a lot of tasks for which iMovie will be much speedier.
Cheesy presentation software? What better time to mention MAC and CHEESE?
Also a good time to remind all you kids to keep your web designs nice and clean. Not to pick on our boy Topher, but his “Great Macaroni and Cheese Page” is a bit, uhm, hard to read.
Before I leave the topic of presentation software, one of the very, very, VERY most elegant parts of the Mac experience is the handling of external monitors and projectors for laptops. It's crazy easy to connect, every single time, without hassle. The projected display offers much higher res than the laptop screen, which, given the res of a MacBook Pro is a truly good thing. But for any size monitor in either a boardroom or theater presentation, the MBP is ready in ways that a Winbox will never be.
This crazy ease of use makes PowerPoint presentations as pleasurable as possible...which I guess isn't saying much. But it doesn't ADD to the pain anyway.
If you build your PPTs on the Windows side of your boot, use Fusion or Desktop on your Mac side, and pop it full screen (using Unity and Coherence, respectively). If you have Mac Office, you can build it on the PC side if you want, then run it on the Mac side of a dual boot. Or just build it on the Mac side to begin with.
Any path you choose, you get to use your Apple remote to control the thing – yet another way to reduce the pain of PPT.
Nice, nice, very nice.
Which is also a song from a group called Ambrosia, which is a kind of food.
My theory is that the primary force driving computer and display technologies isn't science, multimedia creation, 3D modeling, entertainment... It's games. I collected a whole bunch of links to make the case, but money talks: $17 billion in 2007 game sales (43% growth over 2006), vs. $9.7 billion at the movie box office (up only 4%). Music sales did a little better, raking in $17 billion -- but down 10%, where games are -- did I mention? -- up 45%.
You get the idea.
So computer games are one reason why dual-boot systems created with Boot Camp Assistant appeals to Mac users. How's that working out?
Russell Lasson, a leader in the Cow's Final Cut Pro community says, “On my MacBook Pro 2.4Ghz, I run Battlefield 2 and World in Conflict at the highest settings. It's great! No problems except for an occasional crash if I try to adjust the volume on the computer while I'm in the game. No problem though, I just adjust it before I start the game.”
David Andrus says, “Games like Half-Life 2, Portal, City of Heroes, have all worked flawlessly.” He's also using a MacBook Pro.
This same thread in the Cow's “Apple – Windows on Mac” forum reports great results on desktop systems too. You'll also hear good things about Adobe Audition and Sony Vegas – most definitely nothing like either of those in the Mac OS. (Try 'em. You'll see.)
Poking around elsewhere, I've also found great things about AutoCAD and 3D Studio Max. If you want details, ask.
Using any one of these, and depending on the age of your MacBook Pro, you may find that your video card looks and feels dog slow for these tasks – and it is. Dog slow video performance on Macs relative to their PC counterparts has been the most vexatious part of my dual-platform experience.
I've been fond of HP monitors for years, and I found that the one I bought has a particular problem with displays of, ahem, 1440x900. I found this by reading the DOCUMENTATION. I may never forgive them for making me read the DOCUMENTATION. But I also learned the fix: new drivers from nVidia.
As anyone who's gone to nVidia.com finds out, nVidia's drivers don't work for laptops. They say you have to get laptop drivers from your OEM vendor – in our case, Apple. I have no doubt that Apple will give us updated drivers soon...soon-ish...but for me, it meant that my external monitor was limited to 1024x768, and not very zippy at that.
It turns out that the problem with nVidia's drivers isn't the drivers themselves. The installer is just limited. Here's how to fix that. Start by downloading the latest nVidia driver for your card. Rather than running the installer, unstuff the downloaded file to a folder on your desktop.
The next step will require some legwork on your part, but it's not all that hard. All you have to do is add a teeny tiny text file – a modified .INF file -- to the folder you just unstuffed. You'll find step-by-step directions here, along with tips for finding the appropriate driver at nVidia.com. From there, it's just a few clicks to a faster display, and in my case, a much bigger one: the full 1920x1200 res. It's all much easier than it sounds, and with great results.
It also strikes me as entirely on the up and up. nVidia and Apple update their drivers for free, and the drivers used for this process are 100% legit, straight from nVidia. We're just jumping the queue. Of course if I'm wrong and this is NOT okay, drop me a line.
Sorry – nothing to report for ATI customers, but I'll keep checking. If you know something I don't (ABOUT THIS), let us know. http://forums.creativecow.net/forum/apple_windows
Speedy tip. One of the more annoying things about the default Boot Camp setup ignores any clever names you might have created for your volume on the Windows side. Like, I don't know, maybe “C:”.
So how do you give your Windows volume a REALLY clever name on the Mac side? You have to dress up nice if you're going to show up on the Mac desktop, pookie.
Fortunately, it's a breeze. On the Windows side of the boot, right-click on the C: volume and, via Properties, rename it as you see fit.
Now, when you reboot on the Mac side, it'll show up with said clever name in place, as shown here. Although I think both volume names are pretty clever, the Windows volume is the second one.
I'm not sure it's THE most frequently asked question about installing Windows on a Mac, but it's certainly near the top of the list: should I install 64-bit Vista?
If you're using Parallels Desktop, the answer is no. Strictly 32-bit for now.
VMware Fusion supports 64-bit clients including Solaris, FreeBSD, and 4 flavors of Linux, including Red Hat, Mandriva and Ubuntu. I don't know about the others, but it works best with Vista running in a virtual machine. If you've installed a 64-bit OS directly onto the Windows partition of your Mac, not so much. That is, it'll work with Fusion...but likely with a bump or two I hear. If you want 64 bits, load 'em all up into your virtual machine.
Of course, if you're not using virtualizing software, you can indeed install a 64-bit OS on your dual-boot system. In fact, if you have a 2008 MacBook Pro (Penryn) or an Air, you're in great shape: the latest version of the Boot Camp Assistant has 64-bit Vista drivers. If you're on earlier MBP, you can still install 64-bit Vista, but you'll have to do the driver-hunting yourself. Or you can wait a little longer. Apple was very good about updating the Assistant when it was in beta. They'll surely do the same with the release version.
The big questions is, why are so many people asking this question? It looks to me that the big reason for asking about 64-bit Vista is The Missing RAM. Any 32-bit flavor of Windows (including XP) will look at 4GB RAM installed, and report back that there are only 3 gigs available.
I've included a screencap of where you'd see that my 4 gigs was reporting as 3...except that I only have 2.
(I get along with 2GB just fine, even running a standard installation of Vista Ultimate. My next upgrade purchase will be for a bigger hard drive.)
The Missing RAM is being used by the BIOS – Basic Input/Output System...basically, the firmware that loads before booting ...video cards and the like.
While we're talking about the pre-boot firmware – Windows! Can we talk? You've actually been around longer than Mac, and you still have a NASTY pre-boot screen! No wonder you scare away Mac people. That pre-boot screen is so nasty that even NASTY uses a Mac so he doesn't have to look at that thing.
Yeah, yeah, I can go into MSCONFIG and pull up something a little less nasty if I'm also willing to live with “Selective Startup.”Are you serious? Honey, you're not a modern OS until you dress like one.
Anyway, different configurations load up slightly different amounts of RAM, but a system with 4GB RAM reports that there are only 3-ish gigs of memory installed.
That is, until Vista SP1. Problem solved! It says so right here in this Microsoft Knowledge Base article, called, “Windows Vista SP1 will report 4 GB of system memory (RAM) on systems that have 4 GB of memory installed.”
Woo-hoo! Off to the races!
This is great! Tell me more!
“This change in Windows Vista SP1 is a reporting change only.”
Wait, you mean I can't actually USE 4 gigs of RAM. You're just taunting me? Telling me that YOU KNOW I have 4 gigs of RAM and you just won't let me USE THEM?
Well, yeah, pretty much. It's more of a...well, CONCEPTUAL solution, rather than, uhm, an ACTUAL solution.
RAM: Can you count to 4?
Okay, here's the deal. Don't take my word for it because the answer is, no, I can't count to 4. The folks at Tom's Hardware are some of the hardest of hardcore performance nerds drawing breath. They did a little test to see how much you gain by installing 64-bit Vista to take advantage of the RAM you gain.
The results of their research is TWELVE PAGES LONG, so when I say here's the short version, I mean it. The short version is...you don't gain anything. You know how bigger drive sizes mean bigger sizes for the individual files on it? Same deal here.
“The problem is that while it is true that you would "gain" the missing memory, you would also immediately lose it to the system due to the 64 bit version's larger memory footprint. Thus, using a 64 bit version really only makes sense with larger memory sizes. “
That's on page 5. If you want to read all 12 pages, here they are. All kidding aside, very interesting stuff.
Note all of this is before we talk about a single APPLICATION that might or might not be 64-bit (most of them, including AE, are NOT yet), and drivers that might or might not be available (ditto). I could so very, very easily be wrong (again), but you might have surmised by now that I see trouble with 64-bit installations right now, ESPECIALLY for dual-booting on a MacBook Pro, where driver support is critical.
One app deserves mention, though: for a Mac-oriented dual-booter using MediaFour MacDrive to read and write to the Mac side of your boot, no go. As of April Aught Eight, strictly 32-bit support.
If your Windows installation is running solely in a virtual machine – that is, installed directly into Fusion rather than onto a bootcamped partition, you're definitely good to go. Just restore it all from the Mac OS.
I haven't tried to back up a bootcamped partition that's also mounted virtually. Anyone else have something to report?
It seems to me that most people are backing up each partition separately using (most often) each OS's built-in backup tools, Leopard's Time Machine and Vista's Backup and Restore Center.
Actually, most people don't back up. And among the people who mention backing up at all, more people talk about it than actually doing it. Kind of like going to the gym.
So let's just pretend that you back up. Using the dual-boot backup-scenario, the recovery workflow is to restore Leopard, recreate the Windows partition, then restore after that. I've yet to find anything easier that this. I could do an article even longer than this one on backup software for each platform...and maybe will some day...but if anybody has a solution that I've overlooked, by all means let me know.
If you're good at updating backups yourself (unlike me, my wife Nora is astoundingly disciplined about this), use tools that create disk images, or clones. Then restore the clones. Read on.
Mike Bombich makes some of the very best Mac software ever, including the absolutely indispensable Carbon Copy Cloner. It's “donation-ware,” which means that Mike would like you to donate $10 if you find it as indispensable as I do. The exception is educational users, for whom it will always be free. Either way, get it. Pay the man.
The first time I ever used it was for just making a proper copy of my system file. You could drag and drop in OS 9 and earlier, but no more. CCC captures all the important invisible files that dragging and dropping doesn't.
But it goes so much further! It's far and away the best backup software on Mac, too: regularly schedule complete backups, get unusually specific about what to back up and not, preserves all metadata and passwords (remarkably, not true for some other Mac software), backup support for iPods (also not as common as you'd think)....and much more.
(Hey, and no disrespect intended, but peep “Time Machine bugs” in your favorite search engine. Even if there were NO bugs, I'd still prefer CCC. Caveat backupper.)
The “clone” part of the name Carbon Copy Cloner does exactly what it says, and is especially common in the world of system deployment in multi-user environments. At the most basic, this might be a classroom, where each student needs an identical set-up, including configured application prefs and projects on the desktop. I LIVED by this when I was teaching – running an automated wipe and restore after every set of students passed though, priceless.
Anyone from an individual to a sysadmin using Macs NEEDS this.
I'm giving you all this background because our boy Mike has also built the free and oh-so-nice NetRestore. Same price, too. While intended for setting up or restoring many systems across a network, it also works dandily for individual users restoring from local drives.
And it's the only one to support both Mac and Windows partitions. And it's just this easy.
Before we go, you might want to take a look at a high school that set up THREE THOUSAND iBooks using NetRestore. Our boy Jaron Brass says “Not sure if it is a new record, but we're pretty confident it is.”
Uhm, yeah, probably so.
The point being, if you want to reinstall your Mac and Win images at the same time, this is the ticket.
WinClone is another amazing piece of software. “Totally free,” say the fine folks at twocanoes software. “Share it with your friends. Be nice to one another.”
(Okay, Windows has “infinity plus one” more free software than Mac...but the Mac freeware developers are infinity plus one sweeter. I'm getting weepy.)
WinClone is a Mac app to – surprise – clone the Windows side of your boot. Very, very nice stuff. Among the goodies you'll find under the hood is AppleScript – to manage your Windows partitions! Gotta love that.
And if you take the VMWare Fusion/Parallels Desktop route, both have cloning tools build in. Sweet!
(Much of these last couple of sections was inspired by Dean's question in the comments on Part 1 of this series. He was probably looking for closer to six sentences on restoring disk images than six pages, but there you go.)
Lose the FAT
NOTE: Neither Fusion nor Desktop supports FAT32 cloning or restoring!
Another NOTE: WinClone does NOT support FAT32.
NOTE 3: NetRestore added FAT32 support in its latest edition, and STRONGLY recommends AGAINST it.
I know how easy it is to be tempted by the allure of dual-platform read and write in FAT32. And if it's working for you, it's working. But seriously, FAT is a file structure (file allocation table) designed for FLOPPY disks. Some of you kids reading this weren't even BORN when floppies passed from favor.
One of the results of a floppy architecture is that its optimized for lots of tiny, tiny files. It was considered oh so avant when they updated FAT16 to FAT32 to support up to 32GB volumes (get it?) and 4GB files – which, at the time, it was. But, seriously, floppies. I have individual Photoshop files that are bigger than 4GB. For many folks in the Cow, FAT will not do.
The good news is that it's crazy easy to convert your FAT volume to NTFS: type "convert c: /FS:NTFS" into the Windows command line. (All Programs> Accessories> Command Prompt.) You're done.
Changing partition sizes
My recommendation in part 1 was that you might save yourself some headaches by partitioning your disk 50-50, and buying a couple of inexpensive utilities that allow each side of the boot to read and write, with maximum performance.
I still think that's the way to go, but if you chose another route and now need to adjust the size of your partitions, Apple will tell you you're hosed. They'll tell you need to back up your Windows partition (for which WinClone is dandy), erase the partition and start over. And indeed, since Apple doesn't support what you create with the Boot Camp Assistant, that's the only reasonable thing for them to suggest.
Me, I think it's worth the £24.95 + VAT price for Coriolis Systems iPartition. It works great for multiple Mac partitions too of course, but does exactly what it should: nondestructively repartition as you need. And if you need that, you need this.
Last but not least on the resizing front, you can use both Fusion and Desktop to resize your virtual machine but ONLY if its formatted NTFS. Use FAT32, and fat chance of having ANY control over changing the size of your partitions. Convert that thing.
How's this for another food and music reference: DJ Food at Chop Suey! You know you want it! No kidding, this is a clip of one of my favorite turntablists, DJ Food, at the Seattle club named Chop Suey. He's got a milder, jazzy side that you can hear on his remix album, Refried Food.
I like that record a lot -- check out the 2-disk re-release -- but nothing mild or jazzy here. This is full-contact electronica in a packed house. Our boy Food is the one on the left, rocking the MacBook Pro. Even amid the din, you can't miss it.
The one and only company I've been able to find that gets the whole dual-platform thing? Avid.
They get grief as “the PC company,” but they were founded as a Mac-only company, and won their technical Oscar for changing the movie business with a Mac-only product, the Avid Film Composer.
Today they're still not a Windows software company – they're a dual platform company. By which Avid means that you get both Mac and Windows installers in the same box, and can install BOTH of them. You can even install them on as many individual machines as you want, then use the dongle to license one copy at a time. That's the point of the dongle, actually – to enable multi-system, dual-platform workflows, wherever and whenever you need to.
Just for grins, I set up a dual-boot system using the first Boot Camp beta. At the time, only MacDrive was available, so I installed Media Composer on the PC side, and my Media folder on the Mac side, using MacDrive to bridge. Which it did. I wouldn't want to make a living with a set-up like this, but it worked like a charm: application installed on the Windows side, media on the Mac.
I haven't had a chance to try it with NTFS for Mac...but I'm guessing a Mac install of Media Composer reading media off the PC partition would also work. No doubt BOTH directions would work better with an external disk, as all media folders do...but it was still fun.
One box. Two platforms. Virtually seamless workflow of files and projects across platforms, partitions, machines and networks. Is there anyone more committed to a dual-platform world? I'd love to hear that there are others. I'd love for everyone to be.
I'll get around to writing that article actually focusing on back-up apps, but here's an option that so completely flipped me out I thought you might enjoy reading about it too: iDisk creates a virtual disk for you. Jungle Disk does that and something more: automatic, incremental background online backup powered by AMAZON.
It has a very attractive “pay for what you use pricing:” no annual or even monthly contracts, and you can use it with all your computers – Mac, PC, Linux. and thanks to a form of Did I mention automated backups to Amazon servers? That means it's super secure – you've seen Google offline, sometimes for hours, but NEVER Amazon. It also means that your backup disk is never more than an internet connection away. It may not be for you, but still very interesting. http://www.jungledisk.com/
BTW, they know the interface is lame. The first bullet point announced for their upcoming release is a complete overhaul of the way it looks.
I've had several questions about viruses attacking your Windows partition. It's true, it can happen. But I've been around Windows computers for a long, long time. The only serious virus I heard about actually coming to pass was one that sent embarrassing emails to everyone in your Outlook address book. Solution: keep your address book somewhere else.
I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but I've turned off every security protocol I can find on both Mac and Win because I hate the whole permissions nonsense. I haven't had a glimmer of trouble on either side of the boot.
The only other problems you might encounter are from warez sites, which I know you don't visit, or, shall we say, extremely specialized porn sites. You might be visiting them. Cut it out. I can't say for sure, but it seems to me that you might be catching more than COMPUTER viruses if you know what I mean.
If you're up for it, you can manually download Windows fixes every Tuesday. It seems like there are never any that look important to me, and I really don't like messing with a working system, so I usually don't.
As with any OS, back up before installing an update. Hahahaha! Or at least set a restore point that you can roll back to, to fix the fixes.
A bunch of good observations and questions from Andreas last time. This isn't all of them. Just the ones I have answers to. Or at least acknowledgments that I goofed last time.
Obviously most of the users use a laptop to install Windows where under many conditions the Win installation works fine, because the laptop doesn't care about mice. Running a desktop machine you have to disconnect your Apple mouse to make it happen or connect a "native Win" mouse upfront. This is confirmed by Apple Support.
Here's why I missed this, Andreas. I've never used a laptop without a mouse. But never, ever an Apple mouse. I've hated every one of them but the first one....which is to say, before I knew better.
I used to swear by MacAlly, still among my very favorite Mac peripheral companies ever.
By the time I was helping run a Mac user group, I'd begun my migration to Microsoft mice. This raised many eyebrows, to which I always replied, “It's the only good thing Microsoft makes, and it's GREAT.” Ten years later, Microsoft mice are still getting better, and I use one with my Mac every day.
I think everybody should. Next time you're in an office superstore, just put your hand on one. You'll get the idea. I'm not calling anybody out by name. I'm just saying that small, smooth, flat mice feel more comfortable for my feet than my hands.
So it's obviously not the laptop part that made me miss this story. :-) Thanks for pointing it out, though.
Another great point. I specifically waited until Leopard to try Bootcamping my OWN computer, because I found the Boot Camp beta so annoying. So I never caught this one either.
Good point. I'm not aware of ANY virtual machine that supports FireWire, on any platform. I have no idea why, but I should have mentioned that too.
Needing FW is certainly one reason to go dual-boot. If you have critical files on a FW drive...or just have too many drives to give them up, then use either MacDrive (reading Windows to Mac) or Paragon NTFS (reading Mac to Windows) to get what you need on either side of a dual boot.
Somebody asked me offline if you can install the Mac OS on a homebrew PC. It sounds nice, doesn't it? The shiniest OS on the biggest, baddest box you can sell your father's car to buy.
There are lots and lots of ways to do it, and each and every single one of them is an explicit violation of Apple's EULA: installation on Apple-branded hardware ONLY. I haven't poked Apple with a stick about it, but it even looks to me like installing OS X in a virtual machine is also a violation of the license agreement.
So CAN you do it? Yes.
MAY you do it? No.
And I don't care if your friends are all running illegal hacks. We're not going to have any of that sort of thing here, young man.
Now go wash your hard drive before dinner.