Running Windows on Apple M1

Craig Federighi on running Windows on M1 Macs;

As for Windows running natively on the machine, “that’s really up to Microsoft,” he said. “We have the core technologies for them to do that, to run their ARM version of Windows, which in turn of course supports x86 user mode applications. But that’s a decision Microsoft has to make, to bring to license that technology for users to run on these Macs. But the Macs are certainly very capable of it.”

To clarify, Craig is talking about quite a lot of things here.

  1. Microsoft currently only allows Windows on ARM to be pre-installed on OEM machines. The current license does not allow Windows for ARM to be run on Macs. This is not a limitation for Windows on Intel.
  2. If Microsoft allows Windows for ARM to run on Macs, then the idea is to use virtualization software like Parallels to run it. BootCamp will not be supported, so you cannot run Windows directly.
  3. Windows apps that have not been rewritten in ARM code will have to emulated or translated to run on M1 Macs. Rosetta 2 will not do this. Instead, emulation will be done by Windows for ARM. Unfortunately, from what we know, emulation performance of the Windows solution is nowhere near that of Rosetta 2, and is most likely several times slower.

So yes, it is up to Microsoft allow Windows to run on Apple M1 Macs. However, Craig is not talking about running the Intel version of Windows. He is talking about the ARM version. Furthermore, with regards to apps that have not yet been recompiled for ARM, they won’t be translated using Rosetta 2. They will rely on the translation capability inside Windows for ARM, which at this point is far inferior.

By saying “that’s really up to Microsoft”, he is saying that Apple M1 Macs are the best hardware on which to run Windows on ARM, but it’s up to Microsoft to improve their software to make it a good experience.

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