Microsoft says Windows on ARM will not support Apple M1 Macs

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited September 13
Microsoft poured cold water on hopes that its Windows on ARM solution will one day support Apple Silicon, saying that running ARM versions of Windows 11 on M1 Macs is not "a supported scenario."

Parallels


The software giant confirmed its plans to The Register last week, noting Windows 11 will not offer official support for M1 Macs through virtualization or on bare hardware. Microsoft did not go so far as to say the practice is illegal, but the statement puts a damper on the deployment of sanctioned VMs with full backing from the developer.

For months, users have relied on Windows Insider builds, specifically those developed for ARM architectures, to run Windows 10 and 11 virtual machines on M1 silicon. That solution might also be in jeopardy.

As the publication reports, recent updates to a developer channel Windows Insider build of Windows 11 have resulted in hardware compatibility errors on Parallels VMs. Parallels pushed out a point update that seemingly fixed the issue, but whether the patch will hold remains unclear. Microsoft could be exploring ways to break compatibility with what it now deems "unsupported scenarios" in attempts to end Windows 11 VMs on Apple devices, a move that could result in a game of cat and mouse with virtualization makers.

Parallels leaned on Microsoft's Windows Inside builds to introduce support for VMs on ARM hardware in April. Capabilities were extended to Windows 11 with the release of Parallels 17 in August, with the company promising full support for the operating system when it launches in October.

VMware, which markets another leading virtualization solution, is taking a different route. The company issued a private beta of VMware Fusion last week without official support for Windows on ARM builds, citing a lack of clarity on the subject in Microsoft's end-user license agreement.

Blogger Paul Thurrott, who spotted the report on Monday, said a source expected Microsoft to announce support for M1 Macs in September. That declaration now appears unlikely.

Apple is well into a hardware transition that aims to replace Intel processors with its own in-house designed silicon. So far, the tech giant has moved the 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, Mac mini and 24-inch iMac to M1. The 14-inch MacBook Pro and 16-inch MacBook Pro are expected to receive the same treatment before year's end.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,380member
    'Not supporting' isn't as bad as declaring it illegal I'd have thought.
    rcfawatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 51
    Isn't Microsoft's main reason for existence the creation of operating systems for other people's hardware?
    rob53kiehtanshaminorezwitsMisterKitrcfaforgot usernamejeffharrisikirdav
  • Reply 3 of 51
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,732member
    Has Microsoft ever said on the record that Windows is "supported" on Macs?

    Must be a slow day for everyone.
    williamlondonrcfaforgot usernamewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 51
    Apple could fix this by releasing new x86-based macs. But that’s an unlikely scenario. that being said, it’s not in Microsoft’s best interests (i.e., growing the PC ecosystem) to support M1 macs. 
  • Reply 5 of 51
    Microsoft, a private entity, can't declare anything illegal. They can take a position that a practice is in violation of their license agreement for Windows 10/11, but until a court rules on the matter, one can't make a statement on whether the practice is actually illegal.

    So the question is: Does the Windows 10/11 license explicitly forbid certain types of virtualization, and if yes, is that prohibition defined in a way that clearly encapsulates running Windows 10/11 (ARM version) on a Mac M(x) chip?

    Or: Are they just saying that it's unsupported, they're not going to promise it works, and Microsoft Tech Support won't help you if you do it?

    Those are two very different positions. The second is, IMHO, perfectly reasonable, even if I think it's a bad move long term for Microsoft to shut themselves out of an entire hardware platform, and certainly not a good look for them.

    The first position starts to look more dubious if they're specifically going out of their way to break Windows' ability to function on the M(x) chips. That starts to look like Microsoft forcing you to buy a preferred partner vendor's (Intel's) hardware to run their software product, when it would otherwise work on a non-preferred vendor's hardware (Apple). But, we don't have enough information to really make a determition about whether that's happening or not, IMHO.
    elijahgXedjonroolsfastasleepvukasikamuthuk_vanalingamforgot username
  • Reply 6 of 51
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,646member
    Apple could fix this by releasing new x86-based macs. But that’s an unlikely scenario. that being said, it’s not in Microsoft’s best interests (i.e., growing the PC ecosystem) to support M1 macs. 
    Don't care about hackintoshes but I've read that Microsoft has seen the writing on the wall about ARM being faster and less power hungry than intel and AMD, which appears to be why Microsoft is actively updating its Windows 11 ARM insider OS. They would be stupid not to continue to look at ARM compatibility but they've been stupid before. As for Apple going backwards and releasing x86-based Macs, that's not in the cards after another year. Apple was being nice when it introduced bootcamp but that was a stop-gap compatibility. They don't need Windows on any Mac especially since many applications are cloud based so all they need are cloud clients. I don't know the numbers but I bet there aren't that many full-time users of Windows on Macs through either Fusion or Parallels. I have it but I don't have to service a family member that much anymore and have given up on Windows-only marine CAD software. 
    rezwitsvukasikaforgot usernamenarwhalwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 51
    The real question is if Microsoft will continue to try and break Apple Silicon compatibility, or will allow its use unofficially.

    On one hand, it threatens Microsoft's bread-and-butter Wintel homogeny - on the other hand, there will soon be a fairly vast pool of Apple Silicon devices which will be entirely outside the Windows market if they do.

    And let's face it: this may be the fastest ARM Windows will run for some time, despite Microsoft's claim that they're making their own chips (née Qualcomm).
    rezwitsforgot usernameikirwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 51
    From what I've understood, going forward win 11 will have strict hardware and drivers requirement, the cpu must have a tpm 2.0 chip, the uefi need to be 100% secure boot etc...the M1 Mac might be so different not only on a hardware level, but also a firmware level, that Microsoft won't bother making optimization for such a low % of potential clients 
    OctoMonkeyentropysforgot usernamewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 51
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,893member
    Just the news I was hoping for. Gawd how I dislike Microsoft products. If they can’t possibly be run, so much the better!
    ikirwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 51
    MacPro said:
    'Not supporting' isn't as bad as declaring it illegal I'd have thought.
    But since Windows has its product activation system, they could just as easily refuse to activate an installation and justify it by saying that they won't activate an unsupported platform.  We'll have to wait and see where this really goes.  If Parallels can provide enough support for it to operate and Microsoft permits activation, then that will be good enough for most users (although corporate IT departments may balk at it).
    Isn't Microsoft's main reason for existence the creation of operating systems for other people's hardware?
    Yes, which is why this is a surprising statement.  I suspect that the big reason is fear that the next generation chip (M2? M1X?) will be incompatible in various ways.  Microsoft doesn't want to be stuck forever playing catch-up, since we know Apple won't be giving them engineering samples of new chips as they're developed.

    We may see them change this stance in the future, if/when the platform stabilizes and Microsoft finds that they can start supporting new platforms in the future.

    The other issue may simply be that Microsoft isn't in the business of reverse-engineering Apple's architectures.  It's worth noting that they only supported Intel Macs via BootCamp - where Apple provided the device drivers necessary to make everything work.  Microsoft may be unwilling to support the platform unless/until Apple provides something comparable for the platform.  If so, we may be waiting a very very long time, since Apple doesn't seem to have any interest in supporting any other operating system on this hardware platform.
    fastasleepforgot username
  • Reply 11 of 51
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,048member
    The real question is if Microsoft will continue to try and break Apple Silicon compatibility, or will allow its use unofficially.

    On one hand, it threatens Microsoft's bread-and-butter Wintel homogeny - on the other hand, there will soon be a fairly vast pool of Apple Silicon devices which will be entirely outside the Windows market if they do.

    And let's face it: this may be the fastest ARM Windows will run for some time, despite Microsoft's claim that they're making their own chips (née Qualcomm).
    Intel is looking like a cement shoe dragging MS down to a watery grave.   Microsoft would be smart to try to run on m1 Macs.
    rob53MisterKitmark fearingroundaboutnowikir
  • Reply 12 of 51
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,741member
    sflocal said:
    Has Microsoft ever said on the record that Windows is "supported" on Macs?

    Must be a slow day for everyone.
    An Intel Mac had fundamentally the same guts as an any other Intel PC though.  Apple going it alone with their own processor designs is going to have these kinds of consequences.
    jeffharris
  • Reply 13 of 51
    Well, this sucks because I just paid the subscription for Parallels 17 hoping to run Windows 11 on it.  IMO, I see this as Microsoft's way to force people to subscribe to its more expensive Windows 365 service which allegedly works in any browser or on iPad.  Last I heard, that service costs around $32/month.  Can anyone verify?  Thanks.
    markh312021napoleon_phoneapart
  • Reply 14 of 51
    Surely it would make financial sense (once you swallow the upfront cost) to build official Windows for Mac software. They both use ARM chips so it could be done. Given that windows don't actually sell PCs, doesn't it make sense to be on every platform possible, like what they do with office?
    edited September 13 longpath
  • Reply 15 of 51
    XedXed Posts: 1,028member
    rob53 said:
    Apple could fix this by releasing new x86-based macs. But that’s an unlikely scenario. that being said, it’s not in Microsoft’s best interests (i.e., growing the PC ecosystem) to support M1 macs. 
    Don't care about hackintoshes but I've read that Microsoft has seen the writing on the wall about ARM being faster and less power hungry than intel and AMD, which appears to be why Microsoft is actively updating its Windows 11 ARM insider OS. They would be stupid not to continue to look at ARM compatibility but they've been stupid before. As for Apple going backwards and releasing x86-based Macs, that's not in the cards after another year. Apple was being nice when it introduced bootcamp but that was a stop-gap compatibility. They don't need Windows on any Mac especially since many applications are cloud based so all they need are cloud clients. I don't know the numbers but I bet there aren't that many full-time users of Windows on Macs through either Fusion or Parallels. I have it but I don't have to service a family member that much anymore and have given up on Windows-only marine CAD software. 
    I don't see this as stupid, even if myopic. From MS's POV they have been doing fairly well with their own PCs, especially ARM-based PCs. Even though a license would be nearly all profit for them they feel they could lose sales. But I wouldn't worry since MS has a long history of going in the wrong direction (or no direction at all) for awhile before deciding a more reasonable course of action that ends up yielding better profits. It sucks for those that want to dual boot with official support, but these decisions don't move the needle for MS. It's possible they just tabled any real discussion on support for the time being because it will never be a large profit center for them.
    mark fearingforgot username
  • Reply 16 of 51
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,646member
    The real question is if Microsoft will continue to try and break Apple Silicon compatibility, or will allow its use unofficially.

    On one hand, it threatens Microsoft's bread-and-butter Wintel homogeny - on the other hand, there will soon be a fairly vast pool of Apple Silicon devices which will be entirely outside the Windows market if they do.

    And let's face it: this may be the fastest ARM Windows will run for some time, despite Microsoft's claim that they're making their own chips (née Qualcomm).
    Windows users don't understand that Apple designed it's M-series SoC to run Apple software, and to run it very fast. Microsoft doesn't do that, at least not yet, because they need to make sure Windows runs on every tom, dick, and harry PC. Mac users already know the fastest intel PC that ran Windows was a Mac using Bootcamp. Since virtualization has come a long ways and is being widely used, it might be the best way to run various OSes on various hardware.

    As for Microsoft having anything homogenous, I see that as a big joke. The only way to run Windows fast is to add your own specialized drivers for everything. Thats the fallacy of Windows, it's really not that good. People have to run it because they're locked into it not because they really want to. 

    As for Microsoft actually trying to build their own ARM chip, the Surface isn't a great example. They keep pushing it including paying the NFL to use them. This isn't their chip design but do they actually have chip design people at Microsoft? Or do they rely on chip manufacturers to design everything for them?
    12StrangersvukasikaLukesky1444jeffharris
  • Reply 17 of 51
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,646member
    Xed said:
    rob53 said:
    Apple could fix this by releasing new x86-based macs. But that’s an unlikely scenario. that being said, it’s not in Microsoft’s best interests (i.e., growing the PC ecosystem) to support M1 macs. 
    Don't care about hackintoshes but I've read that Microsoft has seen the writing on the wall about ARM being faster and less power hungry than intel and AMD, which appears to be why Microsoft is actively updating its Windows 11 ARM insider OS. They would be stupid not to continue to look at ARM compatibility but they've been stupid before. As for Apple going backwards and releasing x86-based Macs, that's not in the cards after another year. Apple was being nice when it introduced bootcamp but that was a stop-gap compatibility. They don't need Windows on any Mac especially since many applications are cloud based so all they need are cloud clients. I don't know the numbers but I bet there aren't that many full-time users of Windows on Macs through either Fusion or Parallels. I have it but I don't have to service a family member that much anymore and have given up on Windows-only marine CAD software. 
    I don't see this as stupid, even if myopic. From MS's POV they have been doing fairly well with their own PCs, especially ARM-based PCs. Even though a license would be nearly all profit for them they feel they could lose sales. But I wouldn't worry since MS has a long history of going in the wrong direction (or no direction at all) for awhile before deciding a more reasonable course of action that ends up yielding better profits. It sucks for those that want to dual boot with official support, but these decisions don't move the needle for MS. It's possible they just tabled any real discussion on support for the time being because it will never be a large profit center for them.
    What ARM-based PCs? In fact what PCs does Microsoft actually sell? I'm not talking about PCs running Microsoft software, I'm talking about PCs Microsoft manufacturers and sells.They have the Surface and Xbox (not a PC), that's it. Microsoft says the Surface is a PC while they also say it's a tablet. Apple owns the tablet market and PC manufacturers not named Microsoft own the PC market (with Apple producing a good amount).
  • Reply 18 of 51
    Apple should offer to sell/license M1 to Microsoft for use in Surface devices. Wouldn’t pigs fly then eh?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 51
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,818member
    sflocal said:
    Has Microsoft ever said on the record that Windows is "supported" on Macs?

    Must be a slow day for everyone.
    Yes. Windows is officially supported through BootCamp and virtualization platforms like VMWare, Parallels, and Virtual Box on Intel platforms. Of course, all of these installations required a valid activation license. When I was developing for Windows most of my development and testing was done on virtual machines. We sold turnkey server apps preinstalled on VMs running licensed copies of Windows server, fully sanctioned by Microsoft and VMWare. 

    My take on this is that Microsoft is simply trying to narrow down their Windows focus and footprint to concentrate on far fewer hardware platforms, one of which will be their own SoC. The support burden for all of the fringe systems that Microsoft has been supporting for many years is ridiculous. 

    When you consider the magnitude of what Microsoft jettisoned when they abandoned their entire mobile phone initiative, deciding not to worry about Apple Silicon platforms for Windows 11 is not even a blip on their strategic or financial radar. 

    Sounds like VMWare's cautious approach to Windows on ARM was well founded, or maybe even based on some knowledge or telegraphing of where Microsoft was heading. VMWare has a big footprint on Windows which means they are very likely part of one or more of Microsoft’s partner programs. Parallels proceeded at risk, and may have set expectations with their customers that they can no longer support. 

    I do have to say that Microsoft has been playing a bit fast & loose with their Windows Insider program for Windows 11. Yeah, yeah, yeah, they did warn participants that they were playing on thin ice and may fall through at any time and have to clean themselves off. Allowing Windows 11 installs via Windows Update on machines that did not meet Windows 11 requirements was a bit odd. But betas are betas and Insider Previews aren't even beta level, so all bets are off. Lesson learned.
    d_2
  • Reply 20 of 51
    Windows will move to ARM completely at some point. At some point Windows on alternative ARM platforms will be more than viable. It will be a profit area for the Seattle kids. Microsoft really doesn't have any other growth areas anymore. They can't afford to toss anything away. Between the Android market, Amazons cloud, and the dying Intel platform, Microsoft will eventually embrace running their system software anywhere they can. Right now, I think they have to act like they prefer and protect Dell ETC. The main issue may be Apple dropping 3rd party video card support. From what I've read it's not clear at the professional level if Apple will support any video cards. If that happens, if it's all Apple video chip solutions, then Windows may very well never run on Apple Hardware.
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