When I bought my M1 MacBook, I (perhaps naively) assumed that one day it would be my perfect all-in-one laptop. Obviously able to run macOS for my music production and editing needs, but also Windows 11 and Linux distributions running right on the metal.
(Hot take: I think an M1 Mac is the best hardware for Windows 11… except for the notch problem.)
I knew of Asahi Linux, a work-in-progress that will eventually accomplish the Linux side of that dream. But I didn’t expect there would be so many obstacles to running Windows on Apple Silicon.
Boot Camp Is Cancelled
Windows on Mac is a thing people are accustomed to after years of using Apple’s Boot Camp. And while that feature doesn’t exist on my M1 MacBook Air (or M1, M1 Pro, M1 Max systems), Microsoft does have ARM versions of Windows 10 and Windows 11. But you can’t install those on a separate partition of your Mac’s storage drive.
In a statement prior to its release, Microsoft said Windows 11 on Apple’s M1 silicon is not “a supported scenario.”
Instead, you can utilize the new Parallels Desktop to run the Windows OS through a virtual machine. That experience is acceptable, and Parallels even enables a virtual TPM 2.0 chip to trick Windows into thinking your hardware is compliant with its stricter security requirements.
None of that is officially supported by Microsoft. There’s also the risk that any future Windows Update could break the ability to run Windows effectively through a virtual machine on M1 Macs.
But in recent years Microsoft has leaned hard into spreading its software and services across as many devices, platforms, and ecosystems as possible.
Look no further than the variety of official apps it has developed for Android and iOS. Need another compelling example? Look at its Xbox Gamepass Ultimate initiative, which makes a massive library of its first-party games easily playable through PC and cloud streaming.
No Xbox purchase required.
For Microsoft, having people either on Windows or using its subscription services is a win, right? So why hasn’t Microsoft developed an ARM version of Windows for M1 Macs?
According to a recent report from XDA Developers, it’s because Microsoft has a secret deal with American chipmaker Qualcomm.
According to the site, this exclusivity deal is exactly why we’ve only seen Qualcomm SoCs (System on a Chip) in ARM PCs like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro X. And it could easily explain Microsoft’s quiet but firm refusal to develop an ARM version of Windows that is compatible with newer M1 Macs.
XDA has learned that this exclusivity deal expires “soon,” although it wasn’t able to ascertain when specifically. But when it does — and if this report rings true — we could see a lot more competition emerge in the ARM64 hardware space. And hopefully more innovation and compatibility on the software side.
This could all shake out as a net positive for Mac users, but perhaps not for Apple. The company has proven how efficient and performant ARM can be. Now everyone else wants a piece of that pie!
Author’s Note: This site may generate revenue when you click on certain Amazon affiliate links. If you do that, thank you!