Windows on Macs

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Some people buy an Apple Mac and decide to use it for Windows, since the hardware is much more reliable and the look and feel of the aluminium case makes a Mac look a lot more impressive as a work machine than a plastic PC does.

Apple's history

Apple has used a variety of different processors over the years but back in 2006, Apple switched to selling Intel based Macs. Apple also included a program called Boot Camp, which allowed other operating systems to start on an Intel Mac instead of using Mac OS.

This meant that users could have Windows installed on their Macs. The software would partition the Mac so that there was a Windows section that could not see the Mac section, because Microsoft Windows doesn’t have support for the file system used by the Mac, however the Mac had read only access to the Windows system.

Apple Silicon M1 processor

Due to inadequacies in the Intel processor line-up, Apple decided to release their new processor in December 2020. This processor is Arm based and uses a different piece of software created by Apple to run x64 Apple binaries called Rosetta. However, since the hardware is radically different to the Intel Macs, there is no boot camp support.

UTM

UTM is a free machine emulator and virtualisation system.

You can use UTM to run Windows 10 for ARM on the M1 Macs, but you can also run Windows 10 for PC on the M1 Macs, but because it is emulating the PC processor, there is considerable performance degradation.

You can use UTM to run older versions of Windows, as well as different processor types and platforms, including the Raspbian OS on an emulated Raspberry Pi computer.

UTM uses QEMU to manage the emulation under the hood, which is another free and open source program.

Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop on the other hand takes a different approach to Windows programs and the operating system, as it allows for Windows programs to run alongside Mac programs on a Mac.

On an Intel Mac, you can install the Windows 10 for PC version onto Parallels. On the M1 Macs however, you can install the Windows 10 for ARM and use that with Parallels. You cannot use the PC version of Windows, although Microsoft has an emulator for PC programs on the ARM version of Windows.

Unlike UTM, Parallels Desktop is a premium software product with pricing starting at £59.99.

Windows 11

Windows 11 will not run on the Intel Macs because there is no TPM chip in the Macs, instead later models use the T2 chip for that job, which is far superior but does not provide TPM support so Windows 11 cannot install.

It remains to be seen how Windows 11 for ARM will work, whether it needs the TPM support or not. If not, then it’ll install without a hitch on UTM and Parallels or if it does, then there is a TPM 2.0 simulator already in the latest version of QEMU, and I’m sure Parallels will add one if needed.

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