Windows on Mac ARM: for Apple, the ball is in Microsoft’s court
Despite the good performance of MacBook equipped with an M1 chip, one of the potential barriers to purchase for consumers would be the impossibility of running Windows natively. For Apple, it’s up to Microsoft to decide.
On Macs with an Intel chip, Apple has provided the Boot Camp utility for several years. This allows you to create a partition, install the Microsoft system on it and choose which OS to start the machine on. However, Boot Camp is absent from the new ARM Macs. The reasons ? The dual boot approach is no longer favored by Apple, and Microsoft has not formulated a strategy on this…
Apple: the new MacBook M1 faster than the Intel even in emulation with Rosetta 2
Since its launch in 2006, the Boot Camp utility has certainly enabled Apple to considerably increase its Mac sales, and in particular with people wishing to make a smooth transition from the Microsoft environment. However, it seems that the Cupertino company has decided to change its strategy.
It must be said that the Mac is slowly but surely becoming more and more popular. If we refer to figures from StatCounter, in January 2009, Mac OS X had 3.68% market share against against 17.65% for macOS last month. Over this same period, conversely, the adoption rate of Windows fell from 95.42% to 76.32%.
Asked by Ars-Technica, Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering at Apple, explains that the M1 chip has yet a virtualization framework. This allows software such as VMWare or Parallels Desktop to virtualize operating systems, provided that they have been developed for ARM architectures. Apple has also demonstrated an ARM edition of Linux.
Craig Federighi adds that the CrossOver app is able to ” run 32 and 64-bit Windows binaries with Wine-like emulation ». More precisely, with this solution, the user would not have Windows as a whole but applications designed for this system.
Apple relies on the performance of its Rosetta 2 platform to transcribe instructions from x86 applications to its ARM architecture.
Windows on ARM: a new x64 emulator promises the arrival of many applications
It’s up to Microsoft to decide
When it comes to running Windows natively on ARM Macs, things are a bit different. Asked by The Verge on this subject, a representative of Microsoft affirmed not long ago: Microsoft only sells licenses of Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs”. At this time the publisher would not intend to change its policy. Clearly, the user cannot obtain such licenses.
For Craig Federighi, it’s up to Microsoft to decide. We have the technology base to allow them to do that, to run their ARM version of Windows, which of course supports x86 applications.”. A priori, Apple would therefore see no disadvantages.
Craig Federighi also points out that it is possible to find hosted instances of Windows, but, as we know, the Redmond firm is in the process of finalizing its Cloud PC. Windows-as-a-Service could then be the solution envisaged by Microsoft for Apple machines. Running Windows on Mac ARM natively then seems like a fading hope.
Sources: Ars-Technica, StatCounter, The Verge