Microsoft officially supports running Windows 11 on M1 and M2 Macs

Get related details about Parallels and VMware, as well as the limitations of what can run on Arm versions of Windows 11.

Image: Ascannio/Adobe Stock

Microsoft has officially authorized Windows 11 to run on Macs with Apple’s Arm M1 and M2 chips, according to an update post on Microsoft’s support page.

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Runs Windows on Apple chips

Arm processors have some distinct requirements compared to other processor architectures such as the popular x86 chips from Intel and AMD. Arm tailored the M1 and M2 chips for Apple.

Users have been able to run Windows 10 on Arm since 2020, but it was not licensed for devices outside the Surface line and certain OEMs. Other popular emulators like Boot Camp were also previously functional but not officially licensed on Arm.

Now, Windows 11 can be streamed on Mac computers built with M-series processors using a Cloud PC and the Windows 365 service. The Windows 365 subscription enables nested virtualization for testing, running emulators, ensuring full application compatibility, and more.

Limitations on what can run on Arm versions of Windows 11

There are limitations to what can run on the Arm versions of Windows 11. Systems that require an extra layer of virtualization will not be a good fit. It does not support the following:

  • Windows Subsystem for Android (Android applications for Windows available through Amazon’s app store).
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (for running a Linux environment).
  • Windows Sandbox (to test applications in isolation).
  • Virtualization-based security.
  • Games and multimedia apps that use the DirectX 12 package.

Overall, users who want to run Windows 11 on an Arm-based PC should use 64-bit Arm apps or apps in x64 or x86 emulation on Mac M1 and M2 computers. This is because 32-bit Arm apps are being deprecated for Arm versions of Windows.

Running Windows 11 on Arm on Parallels

“IT administrators can now enable their users to run Windows 11 on Arm on the Parallels platform, with the support of Alludo and the assurance that Microsoft has authorized this solution,” said Alludo, the company that makes Parallel.

This is enabled by Parallels Desktop version 18, an authorized Windows partner to run Windows 11 Pro and Windows 11 Enterprise in a virtual environment. It uses Arm versions to run on computers with Apple’s M1 or M2 chips.

“At Alludo, we believe that all employees should have the freedom and flexibility to choose where, when and how they do their best work. That’s why the vision for our Parallels portfolio has been to allow users to access their applications on any device, anywhere,” said Prashant Ketkar, chief technology and product officer at Alludo. “In line with our vision, we are pleased to see that Arm versions of Windows in partnership with Microsoft can run in a virtualized environment on Parallels Desktop on the latest Mac systems running Apple’s powerful M-series chips.”

Alludo also frames this as a benefit for external work, as it gives more flexibility to IT teams.

“Macs are increasingly an integral part of enterprise digital workspaces, and Windows on Arm is a key component in ensuring they have equal access to all enterprise resources,” said Shannon Kalvar, IDC research director at Alludo, in a press release.

VMware’s response to this Microsoft news

Other partner organizations including VMware have responded positively to the news.

“After years of development and effort to get Fusion to support Windows on Arm without explicit support, and even in the face of ambiguity in several areas, we recently released VMware Fusion 13 with enhancements to specifically support Windows on Arm with Fusion on Macs with Apple silicon,” VMware said in a blog post.

The “insight and development guidance directly from Microsoft” that VMware will be able to receive as a result of this announcement will help smooth out “some elements that need work,” VMware said. VMware is now part of a new official partner program with Microsoft.

Read next: Apple unveils MacBook Pro with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips (TechRepublic)

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