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18 Feb, 2023
2 min time to read

Microsoft has teamed up with Parallels to allow Windows 11 to run on Apple's latest M1 and M2 Macs in a virtual environment.

The collaboration allows for the use of Parallels Desktop version 18 to operate Arm versions of Windows 11. While Microsoft has specific limitations on which CPUs are supported to run Windows 11 natively, they have given the go-ahead for M1 and M2 Mac users to run the operating system in a virtual machine. This is a step further than previous methods that required the Windows version of Arm to be licensed directly to OEMs.

This is a significant partnership as Apple has shown no signs of supporting Boot Camp on M1 or M2 Macs. The previous version of Parallels Desktop supported Windows on M1 chips, but this updated version allows users to download and install Windows 11 with just a single click. Parallels has also managed the complexity of Windows 11's TPM and Secure Boot requirements with a virtual TPM that is paired with Apple silicon.

However, some limitations still exist, and the licensing situation is not entirely clear. For example, drivers for hardware will only work if they are specifically designed for Windows 11 Arm-based PCs, and certain games may not work if they use OpenGL 3.3 or above or rely on anti-cheat drivers. Additionally, some apps will not run correctly, including ones that attempt to integrate into the Windows shell, such as cloud storage apps or assistive technologies.

Despite these limitations, Windows on Arm now has x64 app emulation, so most apps should run without issue. Microsoft is also offering another alternative for those who want to access Windows 11 on an M1 or M2 Mac: Windows 365 Cloud PCs. These are virtual machines hosted in the cloud and include full application compatibility.

The licensing situation is not entirely clear, with Parallels stating that businesses can purchase a Windows 11 license "through their normal Windows procurement process," while individuals can acquire the $199 Windows 11 Pro license directly from Microsoft. It is unclear how Microsoft has changed its licensing rules in this regard, and further comment from the company has been requested.