Apple’s move to its own M-series chips for Macs has many benefits, but there’s one important feature that was lost in the move from Intel processors: Boot Camp, Apple’s utility that lets a Mac run Windows alongside macOS. While Boot Camp is still supported on Ventura, you won’t find it on the Mac M1 or M2.
If the user wants to run Windows on one of these new Macs, the solution is to use the Arm version of Windows with virtualization software. However, Microsoft’s licensing restrictions officially prevented users from running Windows for Arm on an M-series Mac, even though it was technically possible to do so.
However, on Thursday, Microsoft announced in a support document that Parallels Desktop 18 is now “allowed” to run Arm versions of Windows 11 Pro and Windows 11 Enterprise on M1 and M2 Macs. Authorization is important because it means Parallels and Windows on Arm can be deployed in a business environment, and users can get support if they run into problems.
The announcement specifically mentions Microsoft Parallels as an authorized solution. Microsoft does not sell Windows for Arm as a standalone product, but you can download and install Windows 11 directly from Parallels. VMware Fusion, QEMU, and other VMs don’t offer a way to get Windows for Arm (although they can run it), and those VMs still seem to be unauthorized. (When I asked Microsoft PR about unauthorized VMs, they referred me to the aforementioned support doc and said there was nothing else to share at this time.) The only other allowed option to run Windows on a Mac is to use Microsoft Windows 365 online . service and start the cloud PC.
The final nail in Boot Camp’s coffin
Boot Camp became an official part of the Mac operating system in 2006 as part of Mac OS X Leopard. 2006 was also the year that Apple switched from Motorola processors to Intel processors, and because Windows runs on an Intel chip, Apple was able to provide the benefits of running Windows (as well as Linux) on Mac hardware, although Apple always reminded users that it did not provide support. Mac hardware running non-Mac operating systems.
The Apple M-series chips use the Arm architecture, which is different from the x86 architecture in Intel processors, so a version of Windows running on an Intel PC will not run on an M-series Mac. With Apple moving to the M1 processor in 2020, the company has decided not to develop Boot Camp for M-series Macs. While Apple says M-series Macs Maybe to run Windows for Arm, it’s not going to go all out and there’s no indication that development is underway. Since Microsoft’s license for Windows for Arm contains detailed information about the hardware it supports, presumably Windows for Arm running natively through Boot Camp will be unauthorized.
For a small number of users who need to run a different operating system on a Mac, Boot Camp has been a convenience, and user requests to Apple to bring the feature back have fallen on deaf ears. Microsoft’s announcement shatters all users’ hopes for a Boot Camp revival because it now gives Apple an official solution to point to. Apple can now simply refer users to the Parallels setup whenever Boot Camp is discussed. End of discussion. Apple has continued to work on a version of Boot Camp for Intel – last updated in August with a Precision Touchpad driver update – but those updates are likely to end soon as Apple stops allocating resources to Boot Camp as a percentage of Intel-based Macs in the installed the base continues to shrink.
Using virtualization software works for most users, but there is a performance trade-off, although that trade-off gets smaller and smaller as time goes by. If you absolutely must run Windows or Linux natively, you now have a reason to keep that Intel Mac or buy a PC.