Windows 11

Microsoft supports Windows 11 on ARM for M1/M2-based Macs with Parallels

I’ve written about my experiences with running Windows 11 for ARM64 on the newer ARM-based Mac devices from Apple, using both Parallels Desktop and VMware Horizon. But Microsoft’s position was always that these were unsupported solutions that you could use at your own risk.

With a support article published recently, Microsoft has now “annointed” Parallels Desktop as an “authorized solution” for doing this:

Options for using Windows 11 with Mac® computers with Apple® M1® and M2™ chips

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. 

This article goes on to describe the limitations in this setup (no support for nested virtualization and technologies that use it, no support for DirectX 12), but these are not showstoppers for most people looking to use their M1/M2 Macs to run Windows 11.

Interestingly, this does not include support for VMware Horizon. Perhaps that will come at some future date (maybe with an easier way to install Windows 11 that doesn’t involve creating your own Windows 11 ARM64 media)?

The support post also calls out a minor item that I noticed earlier in the Deprecated features for Windows client list: support for 32-bit ARM UWP apps. This support will go away in a future Windows 11 release, so you will then only be able to use ARM64, x86, and x64 UWP apps — quite reasonable overall, so this isn’t terribly surprising. It’s likely that ARM32-based apps go back to Windows RT days, so the store apps that are still ARM32-based are likely “old and crusty” anyway. Personally, I think Microsoft should go even further and remove ARM32 support altogether (even for Windows/Win32/Windows API apps), as there isn’t much “legacy” to maintain here. Having an slimmed-down ARM64 OS would be an advantage over the x64 version of Windows, where we may never see 32-bit/x86 support removed due to application compatibility requirements.

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      • I’m barely getting away with one Windows 11 VM on my M1 MacBook Pro, which has 8 GBs of RAM. Parallels defaults to 4 GBs for Windows and its ok enough, but you do see a little grogginess. I didn’t opt for 16 GBs at purchase because I thought virtualization was just gonna be a dead end on Apple Silicon and my usage had changed too. When I do upgrade in the future though, which is probably around 2025 or 2026, minimum 32 GBs of RAM.