Windows can run natively on M1 Macs but is ‘really up to Microsoft’

While the transition to Apple Silicon has been impressively smooth overall for the first M1 Macs, a big lingering question is what Windows support will look like as Boot Camp is not supported on the new generation of Macs. Now in a new in-depth interview, Apple’s VP of software engineering Craig Federighi has said that the ARM version of Windows could run natively on Apple Silicon Macs, but it will be up to Microsoft.

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A little background of the pickle with Windows on M1 Macs is that Microsoft’s current licensing doesn’t allow its ARM version of Windows 10 to be used by Apple (since it’s not preinstalled). And previously, Microsoft said it didn’t have any news to share when The Verge asked about it making a change to allow Boot Camp on ARM Macs.

In the meantime, we’ve seen apps like CrossOver bring support for Windows apps on Apple Silicon Macs via emulation. And Parallels just announced today that it has a version of its Windows virtualization software in the works that has M1 compatibility.

However, in a new Ars Technica interview, Craig Federighi shared an interesting comment about the “core technologies” being in place on Apple Silicon Macs to natively run Windows. He went on to say that “the Macs are certainly very capable of it.” But highlighted it will “really be up to Microsoft.”

As for Windows running natively on the machine, “that’s really up to Microsoft,” he said. “We have the core technologies for them to do that, to run their ARM version of Windows, which in turn of course supports x86 user mode applications. But that’s a decision Microsoft has to make, to bring to license that technology for users to run on these Macs. But the Macs are certainly very capable of it.”

In the meantime, Federighi gave a shoutout to CrossOver and also brought up that we could see cloud solutions for Windows apps on M1 Macs. Ars shared some consistency concerns with CrossOver:

Federighi pointed to Windows in the cloud as a possible solution and mentioned CrossOver, which is capable of “running both 32- and 64-bit x86 Windows binaries under a sort of WINE-like emulation layer on these systems.” But CrossOver’s emulation approach is not as consistent as what we’ve enjoyed in virtualization software like Parallels or VMWare on Intel Macs, so there may still be hills to climb ahead.

The full Ars interview with Federighi, Johny Srouji, and Greg Joswiak is a very fascinating read, dives into the story behind “why and why now?” for Apple Silicon, and much more.

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