Some of you like or need to run Windows, and since Apple is moving to its own silicon, there is a concern that you will not be able to run Windows on your new M1 Mac, since Windows are still mainly x86 based. But there is hope, and I will show you what you need to do to get Windows up and running on your Apple Silicon Mac.

Before we begin – please note that all the software we are going to install and setup here is still in (early) beta stages. Your system might get unstable, crash, or you may lose work on your Mac if you rely on this software.I experienced crash on multiple occasions both with Parallels and Windows. So, please be aware of that before you continue.

Windows is working on ARM for some time now. Apple made great debut with its ARM based Mac, while Microsoft is struggling to port Windows to ARM for a few years now with various unsuccessful attempts.

I have Surface Pro X for a year now, it is running ARM version of Windows, experience is pretty slow and you can only start 32bit apps, 64bit apps don’t work (yet).

Microsoft recently announced support for 64bit apps on its ARM version of Windows, and it can be tried through their Windows Insider Program. 

What we are going to try today is next:

1.Download Windows Insider Preview ARM64 

2.Download Parallels Desktop for Mac with Apple M1 chip.

3.Install Windows Insider Preview ARM64 inside Parallels Desktop for M1 chip and see if it works on new M1 Mac Mini.

If you are not clear what is what. Parallels is virtualisation software that will help us run Windows for ARM on our M1 Mac machine.

Windows preparation

At the time of writing this article you can get you ARM Windows version here – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windowsinsiderpreviewARM64

You will need to register Microsoft account (if you don’t have one) and become Windows Insider. After these two steps you will be allowed to download Windows ARM installation.

To register for Windows Insider Program you will need to open Microsoft account (Go to Outlook.com and register for email) I will not go through that process here. However, when you open Microsoft account, I will show you how to register for Windows Insider program. Go to this link https://insider.windows.com/en-gb/ login with your account and click on Register.


Read the agreement, select “I accept” if you agree and select Register Now

Select Flight Now

You will be taken to another page where you are shown steps to download Windows, you can choose to ignore it, or go through it, but further process on that site is not of our concern.

We will now go back to https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windowsinsiderpreviewARM64?wa=wsignin1.0 where we started. 

If you still get message saying “To access this page, you need to be a member of the Windows Insider program” – click on the sing in round button at the top right corner to sign in.

After you are logged in and registered for Windows Insider program, you will get the screen below.

Click on Windows 10 Client ARM64 Insider Preview – Build 20231

Build 20231 was actual at time of writing this, you may be watching at something else.

Your windows VHDX download will start…

While we are waiting for Windows VHDX to download, we will go to our next step.

Install Parallels Desktop for Mac with Apple M1 chip

Version of Parallels that we are going to download is technical preview for M1 Mac. Here is the link where you can get software.

https://b2b.parallels.com/apple-silicon/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIi72Vkvnk7QIVjteyCh3rTAb7EAAYASABEgJQHfD_BwE

Click on “Try Technical Preview”

You will need to sign in, so create account if you don’t have one.

Of course, prerequisite for this is Mac with M1 chip, and also VHDX Windows installation which we are downloading.

Under Step 3 on the site there is Download button for Parallels M1 version which you need to click on to start app download.

Further down on the page, there will be your activation key for your Parallels M1 (write it down somewhere, we will need it later), and feedback instructions.

Download should be quickly done. Open Finder, go to your Downloads folder and double click on ParallelsDesktop-16.3.0-50385.dmg

Double click somewhere on the package icon to start installation.

Select Open when safety pop-up appears

Few quick windows will appear that will look like the one below…

Read software license agreement and Accept if it is acceptable to you.

Enter your macOS account password and click OK

Initializing Parallels Desktop…

Another pop-up will appear, asking for permission to access Downloads folder – OK

Now, inform yourself before click Next on this one. Parallels Desktop needs access to some folders, make sure you are ok with this. I am, so I will click on Next

I was asked for permission to Desktop, Documents and Downloads folder. I confirmed all with OK.

Finish

At the next screen you are warned that you cannot install or use x86 (intel based) virtual machines on M1 Mac – you need ARM based OS which can run on M1. VHDX or ISO of ARM based Windows will work on this Parallels installation.

Continue

Windows Installation in Parallels for M1 Mac

Ok, so after I selected Continue, Parallels went ahead and scanned folders for ARM Windows installation. Windows download we started earlier finished in the meantime, and is located in Downloads folder and Parallels located it.

Windows ARM VHDX is already selected so I will click on Create

Creating… This step went really quickly through.

Then, you will again be asked to sign in to your Parallels Account

You will also be asked for activation key (it was displayed on Parallels download page). Enter it and select Activate

Ok

Now, procedure of preparing Windows 10 VM goes on. Parallels will also ask access to Camera. It is up to you to allow it, or deny it. You will also be asked for permission to access microphone.

Installing Parallels Tools…

On the first boot…

But, second time was the charm…

And yes, we are running Windows 10 on M1 Mac.

I’m indeed excited, we did it, we are running Windows even on Mac powered by Apple Silicon.

The version that we downloaded is still not supporting x64 Windows apps. Microsoft on the link above offers Windows 10 v.2004 OS Build 20231.1005 and that is the version we have running. We will need build 21277 as a minimum so we can also try x64 apps on this VM. 

// !! Optional step if you want/need x64bit app support on your Windows VM.

Go to Start – Settings (little gear wheel above shutdown button) – click on Update & Security, then select Windows Insider Program at the bottom of the left side menu. Click on Link a Windows Insider account.

You will be asked for your Microsoft account type (I have “Microsoft account”) and then for username and password. Enter these data to continue.

In the end, after you entered username and pass, select Microsoft apps only.

Now, we are back on the Windows Insider Program screen. Click on “Go to Diagnostics & Feedback settings to turn on optional diagnostic data.”

That click will take you to a new screen, under Optional diagnostic data – set slider to On. Click <- Back arrow on the top left part of the screen to go back to the Windows Insider Program menu.

Now, we are on the insider Beta Channel. As you can read from the description, this is “stable” beta. In order to get x64 apps support, now, at this moment, we will need to switch to Dev Channel. Also, you can see in the description, Dev Channel is not as reliable as Beta channel. So, choose wisely here, and test a bit before you are sure you want to stick with a version and use it. Since I decided I want to use Dev Channel, I will click on “Beta Channel” dialog.

It will open another screen on which I will select “Dev channel”

Go back again with the <- Back arrow at the top left part of the screen. You should now be on Dev Channel.

Now, lets go to the Windows Update portion of the menu.

If you select “Check for Updates” you will get the screen below, informing you about 20279.1 (at the time of writing this) build download. That is it, with this build we will be able to test x64 ARM apps on Windows. After download is done, it will be installed and your VM will need rebooting…

Note “Windows 10 Insider Preview 21277.1000 dialog below downloading update – you will need to come back and install it after update to 20279.1 is done.

Restart now…

After reboot I will enter in search bar at the taskbar “winver” to check which version of the Windows we are running.

We are running Windows 10 v.2004, build 20279.1.

Now, repeat update to 21277.1000 as I mentioned earlier in Windows Update, your end result should be this below.

You are now able to run x64 apps on you Windows VM.

// End of optional part 

I will have a few more short topics on this one, just to inform you about performance of Windows on M1 Mac and what you can do with your Windows install on M1 Mac.

My experience with ARM Windows on Surface Pro X is not that great, I love that machine, but it can be slow at times, so I’m looking forward to see how this ARM version of Windows works on M1 Mac.

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