Windows 11 finally gets the green light for M1 and M2 Macs

Feb 17, 2023, 1:33 PM UTC
2 mins read
Windows 11 finally gets green light for M1 and M2 Macs
(Photo by Sunrise King on Unsplash)

Microsoft has finally authorized the use of Windows 11 on Macs powered by Apple‘s M1 and M2 chips, allowing for the virtualization of Windows 11 on Arm through solutions such as Parallels Desktop. This move marks a significant step forward for users who have been running Windows 10 on Arm on these devices since the release of the M1 chip in 2020.

Prior to this announcement, running Windows on Intel-based Macs was possible through solutions like Apple Bootcamp or Parallels and VMware Fusion, but Microsoft did not license Windows on Arm for use on devices beyond its Surface range and other Windows on Arm OEMs. Apple’s software chief, Craig Federighi, had previously stated that it was up to Microsoft to license Windows for this use on M1 hardware.

Despite some limitations highlighted by Microsoft, the change in status has prompted support announcements from Parallels-maker Alludo (formerly Corel) and VMware. VMware has stated that it will now be able to get development guidance directly from Microsoft, while Alludo has indicated that its customers can be assured of the authorization of the solution.

While Microsoft also offers Windows 11 on a Cloud PC through its Windows 365 service for PCs, Macs, iPads, Linux, and Android devices via a native Remote Desktop app or browser, the subscription costs between $20 to $162 per user per month.

However, it is important to note that Windows on Arm (for PCs and Macs) can impact games that rely on DirectX 12 or OpenGL3.3 or greater, and certain Windows features that depend on ‘nested’ Microsoft Hyper-V-based virtualization aren’t supported. This includes the Windows Subsystem for Android, Windows Subsystem for Linux, Windows Sandbox, and Virtualization-Based Security (VBS).

Microsoft has also clarified that running 64-bit Arm apps is the preferred customer experience, but that customers can also use apps in x64 or x86 emulation on Mac M1 and M2 computers. Additionally, 32-bit Arm apps available from the Store in Windows are not supported by Macs with M1 and M2 chips, as 32-bit Arm apps are in the process of being deprecated for all Arm versions of Windows.

Microsoft’s authorization of Windows 11 on Apple M1 and M2 Macs marks a significant step forward for users who have been running Windows on Arm on these devices. While there are still limitations to be aware of, the move opens the door for greater use of virtualized Windows 11 on Arm and provides more options for those seeking to run Windows on their Apple devices.

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