Apple will start switching its Macs to its own ARM-based processors later this year, but will not be able to run Windows in Boot Camp mode on them. Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 ARMs to PC manufacturers to pre-install on the new hardware, and the company has not made copies of the operating system available for anyone to freely license or install.
“Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 in ARM to OEM,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to The edge. We asked Microsoft if it plans to change this policy to allow Boot Camp on ARM-based Mac computers, and the company says “we have nothing else to share at this time.”
Apple has been working closely with Microsoft to ensure that Office is ARM-based Mac-ready later this year, but the company did not mention its lack of Boot Camp support at WWDC. Both companies may continue to work to obtain some form of support, but that would require Microsoft to open Windows 10 in ARM licenses more broadly.
Other methods of running Windows on ARM-based Macs could include virtualization using applications like VMWare or Parallels, but these will not be compatible with Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation technology. Virtual machine apps will need to be completely rebuilt for ARM-based Macs, and it’s not immediately clear if that’s even a viable solution for Windows on ARM or if VMWare, Parallels, and others will commit to building these apps with Windows support.
Apple demonstrated Parallels Desktop with Linux on a virtual machine, but Windows support was not mentioned. VMWare has asked their community how they would use their Fusion virtualization on ARM-based Macs, but there is still no commitment to build the application.
So the ARM-based Windows situation on Mac seems complicated at best and impossible at worst. The best hope is that Microsoft will change its strict ARM-based licensing model for Mac, but it would still require Apple to create Windows in ARM drivers for its future Mac hardware.
Given the small percentage of macOS users actually using Boot Camp and the installation base of approximately 100 million Macs, running Windows 10 on ARM natively on Apple’s ARM-based Macs is not something we can see soon or maybe all of them.