Installing Windows 7 on Mac Mini without a MacOS X Lion Partition

The Apple Mac Mini make a rather nice silent and quite powerful Windows box (there just isn’t any other hardware out there as good). The first problem is if you install Windows 7 you have to keep a Mac OS partition if you use BootCamp which is a waste of drive space. The second problem is the new mac minis don’t have a DVD drive anymore so it is not possible to install from a Window 7 DVD. The final problem is you need all the drivers that Apple supplies, so even if you manage to install from an image it would not work.

It occurred to me that it might not be necessary to keep the MAC OS X partition if I installed from the BootCamp created USB installer. This would allow me to remove the Mac OS X partition in the Windows install process. I gave it a go and it worked. The basic procedure is as follows:

  1. Boot into Mac OS X Lion and use BootCamp to create the USB installer with the Apple drivers. You will need a Windows 7 .iso image and a USB drive. I am not sure of the capacity you need for the drive, but the drive I used was 16 GB. Make sure you don’t have anything you want on the USB drive as it will be deleted in the process of creating the installer.
  2. Restart the Mac Mini holding down the option key and select to boot from USB drive.
  3. Windows 7 should start up and take you through the installation process. Select Custom Installation and when it shows the hard drive delete all the Mac partitions and create a new partition for Windows. Continue with the installation as per normal.
  4. Once you are in Windows 7 go to the USB drive and install the Apple drivers.
  5. Now you have the drivers installed you can download and install all the Windows updates – so much fun :)

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