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I'd like to install Windows on my early 2011 MBP via Bootcamp so I can run a highly critical piece of software (Guild Wars 2).

The system reqs. are XP or better.

Which version of Windows?

On searching Amazon, I found that there are several versions of Windows for sale.

There's Windows 7 Home Premium. That sounds about right I guess. But does the "Premium" tag mean there's also a cheaper "non-premium" version available? If so, should I get that instead?

I understand that the current version is Windows 8. But my sense is that with Windows, one doesn't always want to run the current version.

  • Which release version (XP, Vista, 7, or 8) and feature version (Home, Premium, whatever) is least likely to make me miserable?

  • Should I install the 32 or 64-bit version? (64-bit, I guess, right?)

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Any reason why not using the GW2 Mac version ? – Buscar웃 Jul 1 '13 at 2:47
Yes, there is . – Agvorth Jul 1 '13 at 4:08
Yes, you will need a 64-bit version. So you can go for Windows 7 (64 bit) Home edition. If you’d rather not reboot every time you want to use a windows program, go for Parallels or VirtualBox. – user50020 Jul 1 '13 at 8:13
+1 for "highly critical piece of software" :D – fancy Dec 17 '13 at 14:19

Looking at the Bootcamp 5 FAQ - you want a 64 bit version of Windows 7 or 8.

Furthermore, you'll want to get your specific model of MacBook Pro and check this table for the exact version you want before shopping:

As for major version, I know many businesses that stuck with Windows 7 so unless you need Windows 8 - I'd vote with my wallet on the cheapest non-XP version you can get. From your question, the home version is perfect for gaming and you won't really need advanced pro/premium features based on the requirements (actually lack thereof) that you listed. A benefit of going to Windows 8 now is that presumably you'll have longer to run with it before needing to upgrade to a future OS. Mark also makes a good point that Windows 8 is marketed primarily to consumers as an upgrade version, so be sure you understand your return options when buying and check into a Windows 8 system builder / OEM version if you decide to go with 8.

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Note for Windows 8 for license reasons you will need the System Builder version which is more difficult to get – Mark Jul 1 '13 at 10:32
@Mark I've edited in your comment to the answer - it's really too important for someone to notice in the comments. Big thanks. – bmike Jul 3 '13 at 12:38

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