Parallels working on support for Apple’s M1 Arm-based silicon, could bring Windows 10 back to the Mac

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Parallels is working on a universal binary version of its popular virtualization software for Apple's M1-powered Macs. (Image: Parallels)
Parallels is working on a universal binary version of its popular virtualization software for Apple’s M1-powered Macs. (Image: Parallels)

Apple fans are rightly excited about the transition to Apple’s new in-house silicon for Macs. However, in transitioning from Intel to chips like its new M1, the popular Windows on Boot Camp feature has been lost. Parallels, however, says it’s on track to bring support for OS virtualization back to the Mac in a future release.

One of the handy features of Intel-based Apple Macs has been the ability to install Windows 10 to run natively on a separate partition using the Boot Camp utility. This functionality, however, has been lost on Apple’s new M1-powered Macs as these run on Arm-based architecture, leaving Intel’s x86 architecture behind. Virtualization software specialists Parallels have some good news for Mac users still wanting to run Windows 10 on their new Arm-based machines with the announcement that they are deep into the development of a version of Parallels for macOS on Arm.

The company points to an Apple demo of its non-universal binary version of Parallels being demoed by Apple running a Linux virtual machine. Incredibly, this was achieved running the Intel x86 version of Parallels for Mac via the Rosetta 2 translation layer that Apple has built into macOS Big Sur running on Apple silicon. Since then, Parallels has been working hard to convert its app into a universal binary version that will run natively on both Intel and Arm-based Macs. This has included optimizing its virtualization code.

Interestingly, in the blog post, Parallels also references Microsoft’s support for x64 application support for Windows 10 on ARM. While it is not out of the question that Microsoft could move to license Windows 10 on ARM now that Apple has launched Arm-based Macs (something it currently doesn’t offer), it seems more likely that Parallels will support the x86 version of Windows 10 on a virtual machine. Given the blistering speed of Apple’s M1 chip, that shouldn’t pose too much of a performance problem. Windows 10 on ARM support for Macs would, undoubtedly, be even more interesting as it could open up the potential for Apple to reintroduce Boot Camp for Arm-based Macs.

Parallels, however, has not yet committed to a timeline when we can expect to see Windows back on Macs, but at least Linux virtualization will still possible on Arm-based Macs in the interim.

Sanjiv Sathiah, 2020-11-13 (Update: 2020-11-13)

Sanjiv Sathiah

I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.

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