Microsoft Now Supports Windows 11 on Apple Silicon Macs, but Only Through Parallels

Tom Warren, reporting for The Verge back in February:

Still, Microsoft’s plan to officially authorize Parallels to support this way of running Windows 11 on Apple’s latest Macs is a step beyond what we’ve had so far. Up 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 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 a single click. Parallels is also handling the complexity of Windows 11’s TPM and Secure Boot requirements with a virtual TPM that’s paired with Apple silicon.

It’s nice to be able to run Windows at all on Apple Silicon Macs, but I find it a bit strange that Microsoft doesn’t simply allow the direct installation of Windows via Boot Camp, like on Intel Macs. My understanding is that Apple would welcome this and work with Microsoft to make it work as well as possible, and it’s Microsoft’s decision not to license the ARM version of Windows for direct installation on Macs. Note, for example, the existence of Asahi Linux — a project that already has a working (although incomplete, driver-wise) version of Linux you can install directly on Apple Silicon Macs.

[Update: A little birdie at Microsoft reports that running Windows via Parallels was in fact Apple’s preferred solution, and the birdie was left with the impression that Apple does not want to support Boot Camp on Apple Silicon Macs. Interesting then, that installing and booting into non-Mac OSes — like Asahi Linux — is supported at all. You certainly can’t do that with iPhones or iPads or Apple TVs.]

For people who need or just want to run Windows on their Macs: how well does it work going through Parallels? As everyone now knows, MacOS running on Apple Silicon hardware runs both faster and more efficiently (longer battery life) than it does on Intel hardware. Does practical day-to-day usage of Windows, through Parallels, running on Apple Silicon hardware show similar performance and battery life gains? I would imagine that some, but not all, of MacOS’s efficiency on Apple Silicon comes from having the entire OS tuned not just for ARM CPUs in general but for Apple’s M-series SoCs specifically. Anyone out there who’s using this, let me know.

Tuesday, 11 April 2023