Hands on: Running Vista on a MacBook Pro

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

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Using the "Windows Experience Index," which is included with Vista and designed to give computer users a sense of how well their hardware runs the new operating system's "Aero" GUI, my Vaio scored a 3.6 (out of a possible score of 5). The lowest measure was for gaming graphics. Good thing I'm not a gamer.

My MacBook Pro features a 2.16-GHz dual-core Core Duo processor, a 7,200-rpm hard drive, 2GB of RAM and 256MB of dedicated video RAM. Using the Windows Experience Index, I found that the MacBook Pro got a score of 4.7, no doubt aided by the dual-core chip and better ATI video card. (Gaming graphics, for example, were rated at 4.7 on the MacBook Pro.)

In short, if you have a MacBook Pro, you're ready for Vista. Whether you actually want to install it will be up to you.

Getting Vista RC1 up and running was relatively painless. After installing Boot Camp and creating a 20GB partition on my MacBook Pro's hard drive, I slipped in the Vista installation disk and pretty much let it install as I had on my Vaio. After that was done, I ejected the Vista disk and inserted the disk containing Mac drivers. Here's where I ran into some problems: The drivers failed to install. I'm not surprised, given that Apple provides drivers only for Windows XP Service Pack 2, but I figured I'd try anyway.

What this means is that Apple's traditional replacement for Windows' right-click (Crtl-click) doesn't work. I had to install a separate program -- Apple Mouse -- to successfully add that function. Adding Apple Mouse to the start-up folder means the small application starts up every time Vista does, so I have right-click functionality when I need it.

The failed Mac drivers installation also means I am unable to eject disks from the SuperDrive using the eject key on the MacBook Pro keyboard (though you can still do so using a menu in Vista). And no "start-up disk" control panel -- used to switch back and forth between operating systems on my MacBook Pro -- is installed. That control panel, which works as billed in XP, mimics Apple's Start-up disk system preference, allowing you to choose which operating system to boot into. The result: If I want to use Mac OS X, I have to restart the computer, hold down the option key and then select OS X. It's a little clunky, but it works.

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