Windows 11 logo seen on the screen of tablet and user pointing at it with finger. Stafford, United Kingdom, July 1, 2021
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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Running 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 custom-made the M1 and M2 chips for Apple.

Users have been able to run Windows 10 on Arm since 2020, but it wasn’t licensed for devices outside of 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 to 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 additional layer of virtualization won’t be a good fit. It does not support the following:

  • Windows Subsystem for Android (Android applications for Windows available through the Amazon appstore).
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux (for running a Linux environment).
  • Windows Sandbox (for testing applications in isolation).
  • Virtualization-based security.
  • Games and multimedia apps using the DirectX 12 suite.

Overall, users who wish 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 in the process of 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 from Alludo and 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 for running Windows 11 Pro and Windows 11 Enterprise in a virtual environment. It uses Arm versions to run them 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. Therefore, 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 excited to see that, in collaboration with Microsoft, Arm versions of Windows 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 win for remote work, as it gives more flexibility to IT teams.

“Mac is increasingly an integral part of enterprise’s digital workspaces, and Windows on Arm is a key component in ensuring they have equal access to all corporate 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 make Fusion support Windows on Arm without explicit support, and even in the face of ambiguity in several areas, we recently released VMware Fusion 13 with improvements to specifically support Windows on Arm with Fusion on Macs with Apple silicon,” said VMware in a blog post.

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

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

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