Since making the shift to ARM, the latest Apple computers no longer support Bootcamp, which was the best way to run Windows natively. This is because the ARM architecture is incompatible with the x86 architecture of older intel Macbooks. Nonetheless, Windows 11 does have an ARM version, but you won’t be able to boot that from your M1 Macbook, even if you partitioned the hard drive.

To learn more about the ARM architecture and how the M1 chip works, read our article here!

Why would anyone want Windows on a Mac?

As bizarre as it sounds, there are many reasons why people install Windows on Apple computers, such as:

  • Gaming. Windows is hands down the best operating system for gaming, with a rich library of games, including the latest triple-A games available and established stores like Steam and Microsoft store. Windows also cohesively syncs well with an X-Box console since they’re both owned by Microsoft. On the flip side, Mac OS also has games, just not at the same level as Windows.
  • Software. Mac OS has amazing software, especially for professionals. From video editing to 3D software, it’s more than sufficient. However, some people need specific programs that are only available on Windows. 
  • Boredom. Sometimes you just want to try something new.
  • Durable hardware. Mac computers are some of the best Windows machines because of the build quality and battery life.
  • Software development

How to install windows 11 on an M1 Macbook

Since Bootcamp is no longer supported, the only way to install Windows 11 on an M1 Mac is through a virtual machine such as Parallels.

Step 1:Download Parallels

Download Parallels here

Step 2: Install Parallels

Once Parallels is downloaded, locate the folder and install it. If you are not ready to commit to the paid version, make sure to download the free trial.

Step 3: Register for Windows Insider Program

Once Parallels is installed, grab a copy of Windows 11 ARM from Microsoft. To successfully download this version, you have to be a member of the Windows Insider Program. To sign up click this link (Windows Insider).

Step 4: Download Windows 11 ARM

As a member, you will have access to Windows 11 ARM that you can download here (Download Windows Insider Preview ARM64 (microsoft.com)

Step 5: Open Parallels

Open Parallels and select “install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file.”

Step 6: Select and Install Windows 11

Parallels will automatically detect the downloaded iso, but there is also an option to manually select.

Step 7: Set-Up Windows

Once Windows 11 is selected, the next step is to put a license key if you have one. If you don’t, click continue. Once Windows is installed, set it up as you normally would.

How is performance?

With the M1 chip on board, running Windows 11 virtually through Parallels is surprisingly snappy. Everything works well as if it was native. You can also play games but expect a heavy drop in frame rates, as the entire system is emulated. In addition, Windows 11 ARM emulates x86 apps, similar to how Rosetta 2 translates x86 apps on Mac OS. This means that there are two layers of emulation when running games in Parallels, and that does affect performance.

Alternative ways to run games on an M1 Mac

  • Crossover. Is a Windows compatibility layer based on Wine, that allows you to run Windows software. It does this by translating Windows commands into Mac commands. (Note: Not all games work with Crossover, double-check before you make a purchase)
  • Cloud gaming. There are many cloud gaming options that allow you to stream games such as; Stadia, GeForce Now, Steam Link, Microsoft xCloud, Playstation Now (recently merged with PS Plus), Vortex and Steam Link.

If you own an Intel Macbook, check out this article on how to triple boot three operating systems.

  • Macbook Air M1
    buy
  • Macbook Pro 14 inch M1 Pro
    buy

Kenyon Ndezi is a recent graduate, writer, creator of kenyonndez.com; and the owner of Neonbuild.com, which is a company focused on building apps for small businesses and individuals. Follow along and get inspired!

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