Windows 11

Now released: VMware Fusion for running Windows on ARM on M1/M2 Macs

After a long technical preview period, the released product is finally available. The official announcement can be found here.

The previews were fairly rough — functional, but certainly with some rough edges. See my previous post for an overview. So how does this new version look? When it comes to creating a new Windows 11 VM, pretty much exactly the same as it did in the technical preview, so I won’t bore you with the same screen shots. You still need to start from an ISO (unlike Parallels, which will download what it needs automatically from Microsoft). Don’t have a Windows 11 ISO handy? You can create your own with this process. Of course VMware Fusion 13 meets all the Windows 11 hardware requirements, including supporting a virtual TPM. It is nice that you don’t need to encrypt the whole VM just to protect the TPM contents; you can choose to just encrypt the files that support the TPM:

I had no network connection during the Windows 11 installation process (using 21H2 media), regardless of the network settings I specified. There was no network adapter detected by Windows. I needed to install the VMware Tools (Shift-F10 during OOBE to open a command prompt). As with the technical preview build, this is still a PowerShell script (setup.ps1), not a full SETUP.EXE-based installer. That’s not a great sign (I would have hoped that there was some emulated adapter support). Maybe this released version is exactly the same as the technical preview? We can dig in a little deeper to find out.

First, let’s check on the manufacturer and model (making sure to create new VMs that use the new hardware version 20).

That looks good – “VMware, Inc.” and “VMware20,1” are pretty much what you would expect. The processor value is a little weird (compared to what Parallels shows), but that’s not the end of the world. The firmware is relatively new, 10/18/2022, so that’s a good sign as well.

If we boot into the firmware, we can see some change there too, e.g. the matching VMware20,1 model and firmware date.

Still no HTTP boot option, and I don’t completely understand why there are two IPv4 PXE boot options.

But at least PXE boot works fine. I can PXE boot into a Fedora Linux image without any issue.

Booting back into Windows 11, I checked the driver situation. There are a few unknown devices, which is concerning:

At least the critical stuff looks good, with customer VMware disk, display, and network adapters.

Since I don’t generally do any heavy-duty work in these VMs, I’ll leave the performance testing to others. (I focus more on OS deployment scenarios, so all I care about are network and disk performance, both of which seem fine.)

So overall, VMware Fusion 13 is rougher than I would have expected — it feels like VMware lost interest (or resources) in this ARM64 version at some point, and finally just said “let’s ship it and see what happens.” But it still works well and has more advanced capabilities than Parallels Desktop. If you want something easy, use Parallels. If you’re used to VMware or want more advanced customization capabilities, VMware Fusion is a fine option.

Categories: Windows 11

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