There is probably little to argue about the recently released Apple M1 Single System on Chip (SoC) revolution, but the question on the minds of many Mac users will be whether they can run Windows directly on their new machines. brilliant. Let’s go through the details.
How does Windows run on Mac?
Macs with Intel processors have made it extremely easy to install Windows through Boot Camp Assistant. If you have the required free space, using Boot Camp Assistant, all you need to do is create a partition, format it and voila, you are ready to run Windows on your Mac. To switch between using Mac and Windows, all it takes is a quick restart.
Does Boot Camp work on M1 Macs?
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. That’s probably not what M1 chip fans want to hear, but as Apple has switched from Intel models to Apple silicon and decided to do away with Boot Camp Assistant, the old way of running Windows on Macs no is no longer possible.
There is here a little method to perceive the madness. To take on Intel and create its own chip, Apple decided to use the ARM chip instead of the x86 architecture created by Intel. It’s been a while since Apple introduced ARM chips to power its line of phones and tablets, so it makes sense to introduce the ARM line for their personal computers as well. By following this path, the end user will benefit from apps that also work on iPhone, iPad, and Mac, while Apple engineers will work on developing chips they previously worked with.
So, as of now, there is no Boot Camp to help run Windows on Mac. Will there ever be? It’s never easy to say for sure, but it seems unlikely. But there are a few possible solutions that can emerge.
Possible solutions to run Windows directly
The first solution is Rosetta. Rosetta is a “translator” developed by Apple. It works in the background to translate applications designed for Intel chips to run on Mac M1 without performance issues that may accompany emulation. If Apple created Rosetta-like software to translate Windows code, it could run on M1 machines. Now the big question here would be whether the M1 can handle the load of a full secondary operating system and, if it can, how would that affect performance? At the first point it looks like the M1 can handle just about anything, but when Windows tried emulation in the past it resulted in performance issues and bugs, so we’re not really sure if the emulation on Mac, when running Windows, would cause the same kind of slowdowns. The second solution would be for Microsoft to create a version of Windows that is compatible with devices using the ARM architecture. But don’t hold your breath for a perfect solution.
It’s hard to see Apple rushing to provide a translate option to help run Windows on Apple silicon. The second solution, however – ARM-based Windows – is available. But it’s a far from ideal solution, full of bugs and performance issues. It also only runs 32-bit applications.
The alternative to running Windows directly are virtual machines (VMs). Parallels and VMware Fusion are popular choices for those who choose to use virtual machines on their Macs. Parallels notes on its website that a version of its software is “already active in development.” Until then, M1 users will have to wait, although the horizon looks brighter than waiting for the solutions available through Apple and Microsoft, which may never materialize.
Another alternative is CodeWeavers Crossover. Crossover is not a VM; it’s similar to Rosetta. Crossover works by translating Windows commands into Mac commands, and the good news is that it works with M1-based machines.
Should I buy a Mac M1?
It is difficult to answer the question as it depends on how important using Windows is in your normal routine. If Windows is a crucial part of your life, it’s probably not wise to get yourself a brand new M1 based Mac as there is no timeline for a solid solution from Apple or Microsoft. The same would apply to developers of virtual machines. Although the developers of virtual machines have planned a solution, it would not be wise to make a purchase solely on the basis of the fact that development has started.
However, if you are using Windows as an add-on, the option is there. Crossover will work from the start while waiting for virtual machines to release their M1 solutions.
While the M1 chip is Apple’s revolutionary foray into the Mac chipset, it highlights the incompatibility between M1 and Windows. Due to the differences between the M1 and the previously used x86 architecture, the M1 is currently not compatible with Windows and some users could be left behind. But solutions seem to come.