Apple Support for Boot Camp – You’re on Your Own

I am developing a very serious problem with Apple’s support position when it comes to Boot Camp and Windows – You’re on your own.  Really..??

I bought my first Mac in December of 2006. In fact, I bought my Mac at that time to BE a Windows machine, largely because the hardware was so wonderful. Boot Camp was still in beta at that point, and it wasn’t very well put together at the time. Many of the features provided by Mac drivers were not supported on the Boot Camp side. Quite frankly, it was a mess.

Today, Boot Camp 4.0 is solid, well put together; and it runs Windows 7, 32bit or 64bit without much need for heavy lifting from the end user, especially on Apple’s more current Mac models. Many people are using it to run Windows, either as a primary or secondary partition on their Macs, again, because the hardware is perhaps, the best in the industry.

Case in point, my mother has a Late 2009 15″ MacBook Pro. Her chosen OS is Windows, and she’s running Windows 7 32bit on a Boot Camp 4.0 partition on her Mac.  Its recently developed some booting issues, and as she has Apple Care I recommended that she take it to her local Apple Store for assistance in troubleshooting her problem.

The Genius at the Genius Bar refused to help her, stating that Apple doesn’t provide assistance with Windows.  This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this with either my parent’s Macs, my Mac or with other Apple Customer’s supported, under Apple Care Macs; and quite frankly, it’s WRONG.

Windows is a mess…however, there are really only so many different ways to run Windows on an Intel-powered Mac: via virtual machine (Parallels Desktop or VMWare Fusion) and Boot Camp.

Both Parallels Desktop and VMWare Fusion are Mac apps, and Apple will generally help you insure that you’ve got the apps setup right, and at least configured correctly so that your Mac has the best chance of running Windows correctly.  This is largely due to the fact that both Parallels Desktop and Fusion have most of their heavy lifting due by a Mac operating system.

The other way to run Windows on a Mac is natively through a Boot Camp partition, using Apple’s provided Boot Camp drivers for all of the included hardware.  While Windows may have some of the drivers in its driver cache, it doesn’t and won’t have all of them.  You’ll need Boot Camp for some of the hardware, like the Bluetooth radio, iSight web cam, keyboard backlight, etc.

I get that Apple doesn’t want to support Windows or troubleshoot all of the myriad problems that may crop up on any Mac running Windows. I TOTALLY get it; and I agree and don’t blame them…sort of.

Apple needs to alter their stance and provide installation and start-up support.  Most of the problems with Windows on Macs comes as either an installation issue or as a startup/driver based issue.  Anything else other than that is likely due to registry issues due to installed or uninstalled software.

I can see Apple declining to support the performance or other issues, post setup or startup. Windows isn’t their OS, and there’s too much a user can do to mess things up. It’s very easy to mess up a Windows installation, too.  However, for someone like my mother, a senior citizen who has little to no computer savvy, the guy at the Genius Bar should have at least confirmed for her that her hardware was fine, and that Windows could startup. All he did was boot the Mac side and send her on her way.  No other troubleshooting or diagnostics were done. My mother was in the store less than 30 minutes.

That…isn’t cool.

There’s no way that simply booting to the Mac side of the world could have determined that the hard drive wasn’t having issues, or that perhaps Boot Camp created the partition incorrectly.  I’m not infallible, perhaps the Boot Camp drivers weren’t installed correctly when I initially built the Windows partition…that’s likely not the case, but the Genius wouldn’t know that, and didn’t take the time to find out.

I don’t have a problem troubleshooting things long distance for any of my relatives, especially when they can send me their computer, but for an older, non-computer savvy customer with active Apple Care on their Mac…I expected a heck of a lot more; and you should too.

Boot Camp is a legitimate part of OS X.  Apple needs to stop treating it and its users like a red-haired step child and provide them with the same level of support they provide for all of their other paying customers.

I’m just sayin’…

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