Discover more from The Shortcut
Windows on Mac is officially supported through Microsoft, Parallels team-up
Modern Macs have no native way to run Windows, requiring virtualization or cloud computing to run the OS on Apple computers
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Windows on Mac
🪟 Microsoft supports Windows virtualization on Mac with Parallels
👍 This starts with Parallels 18, spotted in a Windows support article
😔 Macs stopped running Windows natively with official Apple Boot Camp in 2020
☁️ Parallels is surprisingly stable, but Microsoft 365 Cloud PC is another option
Since Apple made its transition to its own custom chip designs, official support for Windows on Mac has been absent for all new MacBook and Apple desktop computers – now that’s no longer the case.
Yesterday, Microsoft published a support article that called Parallels 18 – a popular virtual Windows app – an “authorized solution” for running the ARM version of Windows 11 on newer Macs with Apple custom silicon, as spotted by The Verge. The change will mean good things for anyone who’s been trying to run Windows in parallel with their MacOS install, as the experience of running software within virtual Windows on a Mac will probably improve – at least eventually, assuming Microsoft’s support of this use means extra compatibility tools for the Parallels team.
The Shortcut is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Windows on Mac: virtual Windows is still good
Before Apple switched to its in-house chips, it ran Intel, which enabled Boot Camp, its official solution for installing and dual-booting Windows on its machines. For years, anyone could run Windows on a MacBook, iMac, Mac Mini or any other Apple computer and expect a native experience. That hasn’t been the case since the 2020 introduction of the M1 MacBook Air and M1 Mac Mini.
Parallels first offered support for virtual Windows with version 16.5 of the app, giving Mac users, for the first time since the Intel-powered Macs a solid option for running Windows and MacOS simultaneously on a single machine. I used it around that time, and can personally say that, while you definitely won’t be doing any real gaming in Windows on Parallels, it’s a surprisingly native-feeling experience. You’ll notice warts, of course, but if you’re only using it for basic tasks, Parallels is more than sufficient.
Windows on Mac: try it in the cloud
If you don’t want to run Windows in a virtual environment on your Mac, there’s another way. Microsoft offers a cloud version of the operating system, called Windows 365 Cloud PC. With any basic web browser, even on a Chromebook, you can run Microsoft Windows from afar for a monthly fee, with the distant PC configurable with four to 16GB RAM and up to 256GB of storage.
Alternately, with Virtual Windows, you can basically assign your virtual machine whatever configuration you’d like (so long as your Mac actually, you know, has those resources).
Neither solution is an ideal wholesale replacement for running native Windows, but there are certainly arguments to be made for one or the other, particularly for business users who need to run certain apps that aren’t available on macOS.