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Apple ships Lion with new Windows-compatibility features

By John Rizzo

Friday, July 22, 2011

Apple released Mac OS X 10.7 Lion on Wednesday, available only as a 4 GB download from the Mac App Store for US $30. In addition to the widely publicized new user interface features, Apple' latest major Mac update includes several enhancements for compatibility with Windows or Windows networks, including Windows migration and new SMB file sharing. Boot Camp, however, drops support for Windows XP.

Windows migration

One new feature enables the migration of data and settings from a Windows PC to Mac OS X 10.7. The Windows Migration Assistant will transfer home folders and all the documents in it, and place them in the appropriate locations in Mac OS X (music, pictures, documents, etc). It also will copy email account information from Outlook and Windows Live Mail, as well as contacts and calendars, and import them into Mail, Address Book, and iCal. Windows migration moves over web browser bookmarks and users settings, including a customized desktop picture (also known as wallpaper).

During the installation of Lion, we encountered a screen called Transfer Information to This Mac, which included Transfer as a Windows PC as an option in addition of transferring from a Mac or from another disk. (The screen appears after the Keyboard screen.) There is also a download at Apple's web site called Windows Migration Assistant for Lion that actually installs in Windows XP SP3 or later.


Lion also updates the Microsoft Exchange Server support that began with Snow Leopard. Lion now supports Exchange 2010 with Mail, iCal, and Address Book. One new feature enables users to set an Exchange vacation message from Mail. Exchange 2007 SP 1 Update Rollup 4 is still the earliest version of the server supported.

Boot Camp

Boot Camp for running Windows is still included in Mac OS X 10.7. Apple says that new installations of Boot Camp in Lion will only support Windows 7. Older versions or Windows, however, are supported in updates to existing Boot Camp installations (i.e., Snow Leopard upgrades to Lion that included a Boot Camp partition). These continue to support Windows XP SP2 and later. We don't yet know the explanation for this.

Other than this, Apple has released very little information about Boot Camp in Lion. We have not been able to find a version number in Apple documentation (although it should be version 4.0). As of Thursday, Apple website technical articles still referred to versions 3.x of Snow Leopard. It can be assumed that there are no new features in Boot Camp, or Apple would have included them it Lion's features list.

SMB file sharing and DFS

Lion also sports a new SMB file sharing engine. Apple dumped the open source Samba, which had been used since Mac OS X 10.2. Snow Leopard had a lot of problems with SMB file sharing, though reports around the Internet pin Apple's decision on a disagreement over changes in licensing for the newest version of Samba.

One improvement to SMB file-sharing in Lion is built-in support for Microsoft's distributed file system (DFS). Lion now supports DFS URLs, drill-down, failover, and reconnects when connecting to Windows file servers.

Lion also supports NFS version 4, a more recent build of the Unix Network File System file sharing protocol.

We would like to hear from readers about how well Lion works with Windows, either with running Windows in Boot Camp, or working with Windows on networks. We are particularly interested in hearing from you about how the new SMB infrastructure works with file sharing, given all the problems Snow Leopard has with SMB file sharing. Please and share your experience.

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Lion's Boot Camp 4.0 drops support for Win XP, adds Windows installation features

By John Rizzo

Monday, August 8, 2011

Apple has dropped support for Windows XP and Windows Vista in Boot Camp 4.0, the version that ships with Lion. Boot Camp 4.0 only supports Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate. Previous versions of Boot Camp also supported Microsoft Windows XP Service Pack 2 and later, Windows Vista, as well as Windows 7.

Boot Camp 4 adds some new installation features, including a way to do a clean install of Windows 7 in an existing Boot Camp partition from a Windows 7 installation disc, without using Boot Camp Assistant. Boot Camp 4.0 also adds other new features for installing Windows, including support of Microsoft Windows ISO disc images.

The new version of Boot Camp also adds three new features for installing Windows. It now enables you to install Windows 7 from an ISO disc image downloaded from Microsoft. In order to do this, you use the Boot Camp Assistant to expand the image to a USB flash drive.

Boot Camp 4.0 also adds the ability to upgrade Windows or do a clean install without using the Boot Camp Assistant.

Another new feature is that the Apple drivers are no longer include on the Lion hard drive. Instead, when you use the Boot Camp Assistant to create a CD or USB flash installer, the Assistant downloads the latest version of the Windows Boot Camp drivers.

Most of this information appeared last week in a new Apple new support document "Boot Camp 4.0, OS X Lion: Frequently Asked Questions." Boot Camp is Apple's software that enables users to boot a Mac with Windows.

See Boot Camp 4 Tips and Reports for more about using Lion's Boot Camp and Windows

TIP: Apple's directions on migrating Windows data to Lion

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

With the release of Lion, Apple provided software to migrate user data to Mac OS X 10.7. This is accomplished with Migration Assistant software for both Windows and Lion. The process can move the contents of a user's home folder and place them in the equivalent location in Lion. The migration process can also move Outlook mail, contacts and calendars. (These are moved to Mail, Address Book, and iCal, not to Outlook for Mac.) The Migration Assistant can even move the desktop picture (wallpaper). The Windows Migration Assistant for Lion runs on Windows XP SP3 or later. You can find directions and a link to Windows Migration Assistant for Lion in Apple support article HT4796.

Apple updates Windows-Mac interface comparison

Monday, March 5, 2012

Apple has updated its article called Switch 101: On Windows, I Used To..., a reference for Windows users switching to Mac OS X. It lists several dozen tasks in Windows 7 and describes how to perform the same in Mac OS X 10.5, Mac OS X 10.6, and OS X Lion. The article includes Mac OS screen shots.

Note that recently Apple dropped the "Mac" in "Mac OS X" for Lion and the upcoming Mountain Lion. Apple is also no longer using the version numbers (10.7 and 10.8) in the official product names for Lion and Mountain Lion. The same is true for the server versions.

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