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Microsoft will support Windows 11 on Apple M1 and M2 Macs through parallel partnership

Microsoft will support Windows 11 on Apple M1 and M2 Macs through parallel partnership

Microsoft is officially supporting Windows 11 on Apple's M1 and M2 Macs, thanks to a partnership with Parallels to allow the operating system to run in virtual environments. Parallels Desktop version 18 is "an authorized workaround" for running Arm versions of Windows 11 on Apple's latest M1 and M2 Macs, according to a new Microsoft Support article published today.

While Microsoft has limitations on supporting CPUs to run Windows 11 natively, the company is more than happy to allow Apple M1 and M2 users to run the OS in virtual machines. It won't provide the best performance that would be capable of via a native solution, but Apple has shown no signs of supporting Boot Camp on the M1 or M2 Macs.

Still, Microsoft's plan to officially authorize Parallels to support this way of running Windows 11 on Apple's latest Macs is one step closer than it has ever been. Until now, Microsoft has only licensed Windows versions of Arm directly to OEMs, making it difficult for M1 and M2 users to officially run it in a VM.

Parallels started supporting Windows on M1 chips with the Parallels Desktop 16.5 release, but this latest version lets you download and install Windows 11 in one click. Parallels is also handling the complexity of Windows 11's TPM and Secure Boot requirements with a virtual TPM that has been paired with Apple silicon.

While you can technically buy a Windows 10 license key and activate the Arm version before it is not officially licensed. This could be a big problem for enterprise users of Windows who have a mix of Windows and macOS-powered laptops.

Although the licensing situation here is still not very clear. Parallels says that businesses can purchase Windows 11 licenses "through their normal Windows purchasing process," and individuals can obtain a $199 Windows 11 Pro license directly from Microsoft. But it's unclear how Microsoft has changed its licensing rules here, so we've asked the software giant for further comment.

Microsoft is also offering another option for those who want to use Windows 11 on an M1 or M2 Mac: Windows 365 Cloud PC. These are virtual machines hosted in the cloud, and include full application compatibility. The Arm version of Windows 11 running in Parallels Desktop 18 has some limitations on the types of hardware, games and apps supported.

Drivers for hardware will work only if they are specifically designed for Windows 11 Arm-based PCs. Some games won't work, either, if they use OpenGL 3.3 or above or rely on anti-cheat drivers. Many apps will not run properly, including apps that try to integrate into the Windows shell, such as cloud storage apps or assistive technologies. Similarly, some third-party antivirus software may also not be installed.

For everything else, Windows on Arm now has x64 app emulation, so most apps should run fine. But you'll probably want to run the original version of Microsoft Edge as your browser because emulated apps like Google Chrome don't always run particularly well.

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