You can get the best of both worlds by installing Windows OS on an Apple machine. With an Apple utility called Boot Camp you can install Windows on Intel-based Macs, but with two big caveats. Firstly, you need to reboot your Mac every time you need to switch between Windows OS and Mac OS. Secondly, Boot Camp is not available on Apple Silicon Macs, the future of Apple computers. Macs with M1 and M2 chips mark the transition of Apple's line of Mac computers from using Intel processors to their own Apple Silicon processors. Intel-based x86-64 processors follow Intel Core architecture. Apple's M1 and M2 processors follow the ARM architecture which is more power efficient.
Boot Camp is not compatible with the Apple silicon chipset as of now. So if you need to install Windows on your M1 and M2 Macs, you need to use virtualization technology. The trick is to set up virtual machines that run Windows on top of Mac OS. For this, you could use virtual machine software, like VMware fusion, UTM, or CrossOver. However, if you want the added flexibility of simultaneously running both Windows and Mac apps, and copying text and diagram data to and fro between those apps, then look no further than Parallels Desktop 17!
With the help of the Parallels Desktop, you can easily install Windows on your Mac M1 and M2. You can run most apps and games smoothly, right alongside your regular Mac apps. There can be some performance issues with some games because they have not been ported to an ARM version. For now, dedicated gamers might have to stick to a dedicated Windows machine. But for everyone else, you can put together productive workflows and workspaces by running your favorite Mac and Windows apps simultaneously!
The Windows Installation Process on M1 and M2 Macs
1. Download and Install Parallels Desktop 17 on your M1 or M2 Mac. You can use the 14-day trial version. If you want to buy the full version, you can use the coupon code BLOGSAAYS for a 10% discount. Then Login to your Parallels Desktop accounts from your Mac. Give it all the permissions it asks. Then it will confirm to you that you are using an M1 or M2, and therefore you need the ARM version of Windows. Just click on Continue.
2. Next, the Parallels Installation Assistant will ask you what OS you need to install. It shows other operating systems you can install under its Free Systems list. These are various Linux variants: Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Kali. In the center, you will see "Install Windows from a DVD or image file". You will need to come back to this window later, so keep it running. But first, you need to get the image file for Windows.
3. You will first need to register for the Windows Insider program to get the Windows image file. Go to this page Download Windows Insider Preview ARM64. Click the buttons and follow the instructions to sign up for the Windows Insider Program or login to your Windows account if you are already a Windows Insider. Once you are done with that, you can download the latest build of the VHDX image file of Windows 11 on ARM, as required. This can take sometime depending on the file size and your internet bandwidth. NOTE that you cannot install any other version of Windows on M1 and M2 Macs, only the ARM version.
4. Once your VHDX file for Windows 11 ARM64 is fully downloaded, get back to the window running the Parallels Installation Assistant. Click on the button to select the VHDX file from your directories, or simply drag and drop that file into this window. It will start the installation wizard. It will ask you what you will be running Windows on your M1 and M2 Mac primarily for: Productivity, Software development, Software testing, Design or Gaming. Select your preferred option. Then click Continue and Create buttons to start installing Windows 11.
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5. Once the installation process is completed, Windows 11 will boot up for the first time. You will see the usual Windows onboarding steps asking you to set the language, time, location, keyboard etc. settings. Finally, you will get the "Installation Complete" confirmation on your screen. Now your Windows 11 is running on top of Mac OS on your M1 or M2!
6. You can go to Windows Updates and let it download and install the latest updates. Then open Windows Store and install your favorite Windows apps and games. You might need to reboot a couple of times at first as Windows installs updates. NOTE that most x86-64 apps do work fine on Windows 11 ARM64. But some games might require anti-cheat software which isn't ported to ARM version yet. So you can run those games only on dedicated Windows machines.
7. You can click on the blue icon to switch on the Coherence Mode on Parallels Desktop. With this view mode, you can use the Windows apps like native apps on Mac.
Parallels Desktop 17 Features
Now let us talk an in-depth look at this wonderful product that is enabling you to run both Windows and Mac operating systems side-by-side!
- The biggest differentiating feature for Parallels Desktop is that you can run Windows on Mac without having to reboot your machine. The two systems just work smoothly in parallel, allowing you to use your favorite apps from both Windows and Mac OS simultaneously. You can even drag and drop, or copy-paste text and image data between various apps. Such a unified working experience is unparalleled and not available in any other virtualization tool like VMware Fusion, CrossOver, or UTM.
- The magic feature of Parallels Desktop that enables seamless workflows between Mac and Windows apps is called the Coherence View Mode. This mode hides away the Windows desktop, and you can directly open Windows apps just like you open Mac apps.
- With 8GB or higher RAM, you will not experience any lag and most Windows apps will run smoothly. For heavy graphics and certain games, you might need a higher RAM. Parallels Desktop Standard Edition supports only upto 8GB vRAM and 4 vCPUs, so if you need more, it is a great idea to upgrade to their higher editions. The Pro Edition and Business Edition of Parallels Desktop support upto 128 GB vRAM and 32 vCPUs.
- Parallels Desktop 17 is optimized for macOS Monterey and offers a seamless Mac integration.
- It uses a virtual TPM chip that is a must for running Windows 11. This make Parallels Desktop 17 the best and the only stable option for installing Windows 11 on M1 and M2 Mac.
- If you have an Intel-based Mac and are already running Windows using Boot Camp, Parallels makes it a breeze to run that existing Windows installation in parallel with macOS. So you will no longer need to reboot your Mac every time you want to switch between Mac and Windows. Note that using Boot Camp is simply not possible for Apple Silicon machines like M1 and M2. We have already discussed above the installation process for the latter.
- A number of other Systems can be run as Virtual Machines using Parallels Desktop. You can run various Linux distributions, older Windows editions, Chrome OS etc. alongside your Mac OS. Thus, it offers you ultimate flexibility.
- The Mac Touch Bar integration of Parallels brings shortcuts and functions from Windows apps right at your fingertips. You can customize the set of instant actions available to suit your needs.
- You can configure your VM to pinpoint how it behaves and how much resources it can use. You can do this with granularity from the configuration settings. Or you can use the one-click tuning by selecting the prime purpose of your virtual machine installation. For this, you can choose between productivity, testing, software testing, software development, and of course, gaming!
- The Office 365 integration offered by Parallels Desktop enables you to access files in the cloud in their native apps. So, if you are in Safari browser, and someone sent you an email with a link to an Excel file in the cloud, you can then continue working in that file in the native Excel app.
- Using Parallels, you can resume a paused or shut down Windows session within a few seconds. There is a 38% increase in speed on M1, M2 and Intel-based Macs compared to the previous Parallels Desktop version.
- Parallels Desktop comes with Retina Display Support. This means you get independent resolutions for separate displays and smart resizing.
- Switching on the Travel Mode allows you to run all your systems on Parallels Desktop while using lesser battery on the go.
- By sharing files across Windows and Mac, and also due to the efficiencies of virtualization, you save disk space. Free Up Disk Space assistant and automatic disk space optimization helps you get the most out of your Mac M1 and M2.
- Parallels Desktop offers 4 different view modes for different workflows and usecases: Coherence, Picture in Picture, Full Screen, and Window.
- As a bonus with your Parallels Subscription, you get the Parallels Toolbox. It has more than 30 one-touch tools for making your life easier, like taking screenshots, recording screen, downloading videos, barcode generator, timer etc.
- With Parallels Access, another bonus that comes with your subscription, you can remotely access your Mac from any browser, iOS and Android device.
- Parallels Desktop has three annual subscription plans: Standard Edition for $79.99, Pro Edition for $99.99 and Business Edition per license $99.99. You can also verify your Student credentials and save money to get their Student Edition for $49.99. For any edition you can save 10% by using the code BLOGSAAYS at the checkout:
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We discussed in this article that using Parallels Desktop 17, you can easily install Windows 11 ARM64 edition on your M1 and M2 Macs. We also talked about some of the top Parallels Desktop 17 features to help you make the most of your Macs. With the ability to run over 200,000 Windows Apps alongside the millions of MacOS apps, you can optimize your workflows and utilize your resources to the max using Parallels Desktop 17 on your Mac.
Parallels Desktop 17 Review
Functionality & UI - 98%
Compatibility on Silicon Mac M1 & M2 - 98%
Features and Options - 98%
Privacy & Data Handling - 98%
Memory & HDD management - 97%