That’s courtesy of Parallels, the virtualization software whose latest update makes booting up Windows 11 in a window on an M1 Mac as simple as downloading an app. It skirts Windows 11’s mandatory TPM chip requirement with a virtual alternative that’s enough to trick the OS into believing you’re using it on a compatible machine. More importantly, Parallels has made a series of under-the-hood upgrades to get the most out of the M1 chip, and after a couple of days of use, I can report that it’d be hard for you to tell which operating system your Mac came preloaded with. (I was on the Windows 11 Home 22000.348 Insider build.)
On an M1 Mac Mini, we put Parallels’ Windows 11 virtual machine to the test to determine if it’s worth your money. Because of Microsoft’s rigorous hardware requirements for Windows 11, millions of PC owners — including MacBook owners — will be stuck on Windows 10 for the rest of their lives. It’s not possible to install Windows 11 on Apple-branded computers because it requires a TPM chip and the latest M1 Macs don’t support Boot Camp (which has allowed Mac owners to install Windows on their computers for years). Nonetheless, I’ve been running Windows 11 and macOS programmes side by side on my M1 Mac Mini for the past week.
Parallels 17 allows Apple’s M1 chip to run Windows 11 like its second nature. Although Microsoft has explicitly said it has no plans to support M1 Macs anytime soon, the chip handles Windows 11’s ARM version with ease and faces zero compatibility hiccups. How stable is a Windows 11 virtual machine on an M1 Mac? Windows 11 on Parallels was remarkably stable for a virtual machine, and that allowed me to use it as my primary workspace.
Once you’re inside the Windows 11 virtual machine, there’s little for you to set up. Parallels automatically shares your macOS profile’s data with the VM, such as Wi-Fi and printer settings. On top of that, it offers a host of handy tools so that you can adjust the experience depending on your demands. The most important tool is the ability to configure how much memory and CPU bandwidth is allocated to the virtual machine. So if you own an entry-level Mac with only 8GB of RAM like me, you can utilize this to ensure running two operating systems doesn’t grind your machine to a halt.
Everything from Windows 11’s refreshed animations to resource-intensive multitasking worked as Microsoft intended it to. Plus, it can wake up from sleep in an instant in the same state you left it, including all the open apps. It supports all the new Windows 11 bells and whistles, except for Android games since Parallels can’t replicate the “hardware acceleration” option just yet. Installing Windows on Parallels is no longer a multi-step process either. Once you download Parallels on your Mac, its installation assistant will grab and load up the Windows 11 ISO file for you, and the M1 chip’s performance chops wrap up that process in about 30 minutes.