Macbook Air has arrived! Let’s install Windows 7 Pro

Although most of you are interested specifically in running Solidworks on a Mac, which is exactly was set me down this path, I figured regular posts about even setting up the machine would be good.

the Macbook Air, 13″, arrived on Friday.  Being as I ordered it online, estimates for an arrival date had me not expecting the hardware for another week.  Lucky me, I get to set up Windows on the Macbook over the weekend.  As expected, the Air showed up in a plain cardboard box with all the good stuff inside.

Install windows on a mac

Unboxed! I like the lack of packaging flash

New Intel chip in Mac

Macbook Air, Recieved!

The first challenge…installing Windows.

Since this will be primarily a work machine for me, BootCamp is the only way to go.  Virtual machines through Parallels or VMWare Fusion I find only slow down the hardware.  After all, why run two operating systems at the same time.  My aim is to strictly run this as a Windows machine, so BootCamp makes sense.  If I really want to switch up operating systems, the extra RAM and SSD drive make switching back and forth just as easy.

OEM Windows 7 Pro

Yes, a legit version of Win 7 Pro!

I purchased an OEM package of Windows 7 Pro from a local computer supplies shop.  On sale, still $145.

Work has that cost covered.  An external DVD drive was also purchased with the rationale that the $30 for the drive should save me a least an hour or two of swapping between desktops and USB sticks over the next few months.  With that disk popped out of it’s plain packaging and into the drive, I was ready for BootCamp.

windows install mac

Looking good thus far, not even breaking a sweat

And just like that…Windows was loading up on a Macbook Air.  about 5 minutes into the install, a selection pane popped up asking for country and keyboard preferences.  At that point I realized the keyboard didn’t work.  Trackpad wasn’t working.  Reaching for that USB keyboard stashed for the last few years under my bed…I plugged that in and also found no working.  Hmmm….

So a little internet searching.  I am not the type of guy to instantly call tech support (although I am very fond of the dedicated service Apple provides with each new machine…it’s much more than I ever received from my last PC).  A little searching for “Windows 7 install Macbook Air keyboard not working” might seem like a bit of a long set of search terms, but this ever evolving search engine of Google’s found me a couple of posts in an Apple Support forum.  Here were a few other individuals who had run across the same keyboard not working issue.

If you have arrived here by chance with the same issue, you’re in luck.  I fought with trying a few times to install Windows via DVD only because I didn’t want to create an .iso file.  It’s the stupidest things we choose not to do sometimes.  The simplest instructions are as follows:

  1. Get, or create, an .iso file of your Windows disk.  Disk Utility can create a .cdr file for you which you can rename as a .iso when the file is completewindows iso file
  2. Start BootCamp and select the first two boxes, and make sure you have a USB stick formatted and ready to become your boot stick!  I used the ugliest 8GB stick I could find.  I apologize for the grainy nature of the photos…low light and using my phone camera instead of a screenshot.  Look for image updates in the future.Windows 7 iso file to usbimage-4
  3. Reopen BootCamp and just do that second checkbox…with your ugly bootstick still in boot stick
  4. Finally, reopen BootCamp once again and select only that last box.  Let your Macbook do all the work.Bootcamp install of Windows 7 Pro
haswell chip Macbook Air Windows

And we’re installed. Damn, look at that estimated battery life!

After about 10 minutes…your Windows install is good to go.  I did 70GB for Mac OSX and 180 for Windows 7 Pro.  You know with all the Windows updates coming with any fresh install that any extra drive space will be very quickly eaten up.

So our next task is to complete the work install with the rest of Microsoft Office, and all the other usual PC based programs required to get through a regular workday.  Tomorrow, we’ll give installing Solidworks 2012 a go, just to get a feel for it.


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21 Responses to Macbook Air has arrived! Let’s install Windows 7 Pro

  1. marco says:

    What kind of real-world battery life are you getting with your 2013 MBA in Windows via bootcamp?

    • MasterChef says:

      2 weeks into ownership and I am finding anywhere between 8 and 12 hours. Impressive considering.

      I’ll have SW2013 running, along with Chrome and Outlook in the background.

  2. gili says:


    I’m interested in doing the same thing but i’m dwindling between the retina 13 and the air 13 with your spec.
    How does soildworks work for you with the air? Does it run smooth?
    Can you do assemblies without a problem?

    • MasterChef says:

      I’ll need to do a video to really show performance…plus a few more posts.

      Solidworks runs fine. I haven’t had a crash yet, in 2 weeks of heavy usage for both work and play. Complex sketches or big assemblies are always going to be a problem on any lightweight processor though. I wish they released an updated Macbook Pro at the same time so I could try that machine side by side with this one.

  3. Darren says:

    Excited to hear how it performs! I’m thinking of boot-camping my mid 2011 air so I can use Solidworks. Hopefully it will perform well…so I won’t have to lug around my heavy work “laptop”.

    • MasterChef says:

      I can’t say I’m totally up to speed on adjusting Solidworks settings to load all assemblies in lightweight. Still learning there. I tend to work with a handful of common tools rather than piss around with additional features. It’s getting to that point where I need to spend a little extra time, or take some of those locally offered SW training courses.

      As for the heavy work laptop…I still have a desktop machine sitting under my desk at the office. I know when it comes to heavy duty large and really complex work I can go to that machine at a moments notice. The Macbook Air ends up being an easy lightweight alternative…and fairs well!

  4. Bill C says:

    Thanks for taking the time to post this. I had several go-rounds with my Air and just before I turned it into some hi-tech discus I found your post. Pathetic we have to jump through hoops to do something like this – but what you describe solved the problem I was having. Thanks!

    • MasterChef says:

      Glad I could help one person out there. Those forums are great, but most of the time not exactly what I was looking for in the way of a solution.

  5. Gabe says:

    Are you still seeing north of 6 hours of battery life with everyday usage in Windows 7?

    • MasterChef says:

      yep, still getting great battery life.

      I downloaded batterymon to do a little test. Maybe this weekend I can do a bit of video.

  6. Andrew M Fulkert says:

    Are you having any wifi problems? I looking getting a macbook air also now.

    • MasterChef says:

      No noted wifi problems. I guess the only wifi related issue seems to be occasionally at work, but that’s only because we have a couple of weak access points that regularly need to be reset…regardless of the laptop.

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  8. CK says:

    Thank you so much!!! Totally worked!!!
    You’re a life-saver!!!!!

  9. Mike says:

    What is your battery discharge rate under Windows? I have Win8 Pro on my MBA 2013 i5/8GB/128GB and the discharge I’m getting under Windows is about 7Watts. However on OSX it’s 4Watts doing the same work. This means shorter batter life under Windows.

  10. Miss Ward says:


    What battery life are you still seeing at this point in your install? I am planning on having a bootcamp set up on my MBA when it gets here since I have to do quite a bit of development in Visual Studio as well as DB development. I am currently a Windows 7 User with a very low battery life laptop (2 1/2 hours on a good day) which is just no good when I need to be working for several hours with no easy access to an outlet.

    • MasterChef says:

      I can get a good 6 hours when running many applications. I was doing a presentation the other day with Solidworks running steam. After 3 hours my battery was down to about 50%.

      Minimizing the number of applications you’re running, plus reducing your screen brightness really helps.

  11. Luis says:


    I am not a windows guru, but I was wondering if there is a difference between using Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 (through BootCamp). My logic tells me that one of the 2 is much more optimized or simply makes SolidWorks run better/smoother. Any chance I could get an input on this? Thanks in advance!

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