Being able to run Windows on a Mac is nothing new. However, with the transition to an ARM architecture, the situation changes completely. There is currently no official solution. But some have succeeded.
Since 2006, thanks to the Boot Camp utility, Macs powered by an Intel chip have been able to create a dual boot in order to install Windows on a dedicated partition. In addition, since Microsoft’s system is based on the x86 architecture, it is also possible to virtualize it directly on macOS using dedicated software such as Parallels Desktop.
The M1 chip is a game-changer
With the new generation of Macs now relying on the M1 chip, Apple has chosen to migrate to ARM. But then what is the problem? After all, there is an ARM version of Windows, right?
On the one hand, Apple no longer makes Boot Camp available. Officially it is therefore no longer possible to create a partition to install another system in dual boot. Asked by Ars Technica, Craig Federigh, vice president of software engineering at Apple, is trying to clarify the situation.
He explains that in theory it is possible to virtualize an ARM version of Windows via software such as Parallels Desktop or VMware. It is also possible to run Windows x86-64 software through CrossOver. It also points to the possibility of accessing an instance of Windows directly hosted on a remote server.
According to Craig Federigh, the choice is up to Microsoft to make the ARM edition of Windows available. A Microsoft spokesperson reports to The Verge that the publisher only markets the ARM edition of Windows to OEMs. However it would seem that a vagueness remains on this point.
Windows ARM available for Windows Insiders
On its site, Microsoft offers the download an ARM version of Windows. However, the latter is reserved for testers registered in the program. Windows Insiders.
On this page, Microsoft explains that it is possible to create a virtual machine within Hyper-V. The publisher adds that it is necessary to have a machine on ARM equipped with a Microsoft SQ1 SoC or a Snapdragon 8cX or 850.
The developer Alexander Graf managed to run Windows ARM directly on a Mac powered by the M1 chip, however. To find the Microsoft system, it relies on the QEMU virtualization environment. The latter recently received a patch to run on new Apple machines.
Technically, nothing therefore prevents the ARM edition of Windows from working correctly on new Macs, which should prove to be all the more interesting in 2021 with the new features to come. However, it is Microsoft’s responsibility to make this version available to the public.