Virtualization Technology News and Information
Microsoft Officially Supports Running Windows 11 on Macs with Apple Silicon M1 and M2 CPUs


Important news coming out of Microsoft for the Apple and virtualization community. The company announced support for Windows 11 on ARM-based processors. Why is that significant? It marks the first time that Microsoft has officially authorized the use of Windows 11 on Apple's popular M1 and M2 processors via ARM, as well as ARM-based VMs.

Windows-on-Arm has been out there in the wild for a while now, and it's been "possible" to run it as a virtual machine on Macs via desktop hypervisors. But Microsoft never authorized that use on a VM, so, it was unsupported and users couldn't license Windows 11 for that use case.

Previously, Windows 11 on ARM-based processors was limited to specific devices such as the Surface Pro X and the Lenovo Flex 5G. But, like many things in life, things change. And in this case, for the better. Microsoft published a statement online within a support page explaining how Mac users can "officially" run Windows 11 on their M1 and M2 powered Macs. In general, there are two ways of doing so: using Windows 365 Cloud PCs (which one would assume is Microsoft's favored approach), or using a desktop virtualization hypervisor such as Parallels Desktop for Mac.

According to the newly published support page, "Parallels Desktop version 18 is an authorized solution for running Arm versions of Windows 11 Pro and Windows 11 Enterprise in a virtual environment on its platform on Apple M1 and M2 computers."

Following Microsoft's blessing of Parallels Desktop, VMware wanted to make sure they were also part of the conversation. "We’re thrilled to finally be able move full-speed ahead in offering world-class support for Windows on Mac computers with Apple silicon with VMware Fusion via a new partner program to help us along the journey," explains Michael Roy, Product Line Manager for Desktop Hypervisor Products at VMware.

Roy added, “With Fusion 13 and beyond customers can rest easy knowing that they can deploy Arm-based Windows and Linux virtual machines on Mac computers with Apple silicon, at any scale, with the full weight of VMware’s support behind it."

But as you might have expected, not everything is rainbows, sunshine and unicorns with this announcement. In the message of support, Microsoft said that the Arm version of Windows 11 will have limitations that can impact your ability to use various types of hardware, games and other apps that rely on DirectX 12 or OpenGL3.3 or greater. They also tossed out this tidbit of information as well:

Experiences that depend on an additional layer of virtualization (nested virtualization) are not supported, including:  

  • Windows Subsystem for Android, which enables your Windows 11 device to run Android applications that are available in the Amazon Appstore
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux, which enables a GNU/Linux environment on Windows 11
  • Windows Sandbox, a lightweight desktop environment to safely run applications in isolation
  • Virtualization-based Security (VBS), which enables customers to create and isolate a secure region of memory from the normal operating system

But come on, let's not focus on the negative. This absolutely is a good thing.

With the authorization of VMs, developers can now test and build applications on a wider range of devices, which should lead to an increase in the development of Windows 11 applications optimized for ARM-based processors.

The move is also significant for developers who may not have access to hardware devices with ARM-based processors. With the authorization of VMs, developers can now create virtual machines with ARM-based processors, allowing them to test and build applications on their existing hardware without having to purchase new devices.

In addition to the authorization of VMs, Microsoft has also released a set of tools and resources to help developers build applications for Windows 11 on ARM-based processors. These tools include an emulator that can be used to test and debug applications, as well as a set of documentation and tutorials to help developers get started.

While there are still some limitations to running Windows 11 on ARM-based processors, in the end, this move represents a significant and welcomed step forward.

Published Thursday, February 23, 2023 7:32 AM by David Marshall
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