Microsoft has teamed up with Parallels for an officially supported virtualised Arm version of Windows on M1 and M2 Macs.
For many years Mac users have been able to use Parallels to run a virtualised version of Windows. Ever since Apple discontinued Bootcamp, Parallels Desktop has been the primary way to run the Microsoft OS on Apple hardware, however it has never been officially supported.
Now, Microsoft has partnered with Parallels to bring an officially supported version of Windows 11 to Apple silicon powered computers.
Non Windows users can already 'stream' Windows to their machines using Microsoft's 365 subscription service, but this is the first time the company has officially supported localised virtualisation of the OS.
Parallels Desktop version 18 will support Windows 11 Pro and Enterprise editions, although there are some limitations. For example, it can't run Windows Subsystem for Android or Linux. Nor can it run Windows Sandbox for safely testing applications in isolation. Virtualisation-based Security is also not supported, and unfortunately for those who might want to run games, DirectX 12 is also out of the running.
Lastly, 32-bit Arm apps are not supported, with 64-bit being the preference. Although there is an emulation mode for x32 and x64 apps.
The observant among you will already know that Parallels has been able to run Windows on Apple silicon since version 16.5. However, this latest officially supported release allows users to install the Windows OS with a single click. A virtual TPM that is paired with Apple silicon takes care of the software's TPM and secure boot requirements.
So, good news then for people who only have one machine and need to test or review apps within a Windows environment. Virtualisation will never be a perfect solution, but modern hardware allows for a smooth experience compared with the painfully slow emulation that was present very early on. One suspects that Bootcamp could never come back once Apple had decided on developing its own Arm-based chips. However, now that Arm is finding its way into the Windows narrative, maybe we might see Bootcamp coming back into existence at some point in the future.
Parallels Desktop is available now priced from £89.99.
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