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Apple's ARM switch will be the end of Boot Camp

Boot Camp
Boot Camp (Image credit: Windows Central)

Boot Camp

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Apple is moving from Intel processors to its own Apple silicon on the Mac.
  • Amongst other things, it will signal the end of Boot Camp as a way to install and run Windows on Mac.
  • Going forward, the only option will be virtualization.

Apple has confirmed that switching to its own, ARM-based Apple silicon will signal the end of Boot Camp support.

As The Verge notes:

Apple will start switching its Macs to its own ARM-based processors later this year, but you won't be able to run Windows in Boot Camp mode on them. Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to PC makers to preinstall on new hardware, and the company hasn't made copies of the operating system available for anyone to license or freely install.

In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft said it only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs, and that it had nothing further to share at this time.

Then, on John Gruber's WWDC Talk Show, Craig Federighi confirmed that Apple would not support Boot Camp on ARM Macs:

"We're not direct booting an alternate operating system. Purely virtualization is the route. These hypervisors can be very efficient, so the need to direct boot shouldn't really be the concern."

The only wrinkle here is that Apple's Rosetta software, which will be used to help translate software to make it compatible with Apple's ARM Macs will not support virtualization software like Parallels natively. That means companies will have to rebuild their virtualization software for ARM if they want it to be used on Apple's next generation of Macs. This is because Rosetta will not work with Virtual Machine apps that virtualize X86_64 platforms.

As of right now, the only viable solution over the next couple of years will likely be to stick to Intel-based Macs. There is always a chance that Apple and Microsoft might come to some sort of agreement in the meantime though.

33 Comments
  • Apple transition to Arm will make PC look like dinosaurs. Apple is forging an unparreled ecosystem, boot camp is last of the problems.
  • Let's see how this goes. It amazes me how people think the whole of Intel, AMD, NVIDIA are 'dinosaurs' as if the ARM chips will truly outperform their x86_64 counterparts when using 'real' tools - you know what aircraft designers, chip designers, etc. use on a daily basis. And yes bootcamp, Parallels is a big deal for Apple - I myself will not have got an iMac if I can't boot Windows - if you use heavy CAD tools, you are pretty lost without being able to run Windows.
  • In my opinion it is not a matter of which architecture will be more powerful, maybe Intel and Amd chips will lead, but the real issue is the ecosystem. Apple is creating a unique ecosystem both in software and hardware. If you consider it that is amazing. MSFT tried something similar, in a much smaller scale, with Windows 8 and WP but failed. In PC industry no company will be able to challenge Apple. That is what I mean when I say dinosaurs.
  • But PCs are not phones at all. The bulk of PC use is for 'real' work. Most people now use their phones for all else. The mac (not the iPhone) is the real workhorse in the Apple ecosystem. What is actually gained by migrating to ARM then? When AMD is now pushing 64 cores for desktop workstations on the x_64 architecture, where CAD simulations I previously completed in 48 hours now completes in 8 hours, and at a fraction of the cost 5 years ago. What will the mac users use? Their iPhones?? And now not even supporting Windows, what's the point? To turn the mac to a glorified iPhone or Chromebook??
  • ARM chips we have now are made specifically for phones and tablets. That means they can make desktop specific chips, and they will be faster, because they need to be. ARM processors aren't slower than x86 because the technology isn't capable, it's because we didn't need faster processors. Now that it is needed, they will start to show up. And why would Apple would do this? For them, ARM on the Mac means bringing iOS apps more easily to the platform. It can be a huge gain for them. And now they maintain the control over both hardware and software, which helps planning a lineup whenever they feel more comfortable.
  • The question I have about ARM equivalent of x86_64 performance is at what cost? When ARM chips approach x86_64 in desktop/workstation performance, the power budget will probably be equal, so no gains in hardware. Not to mention that Intel and AMD will naturally be pushing the performance envelope at the same time. This then leaves software. For desktop class software, which is what the mac is primarily used for, they require a rewrite or port of legacy pro tools, which is a completely different matter altogether - the time cost, the chance that many companies do not ever get to do this. So what real benefit finally accrues to the end user here?
  • Honestly, to the end user there's nothing different for now. The thing is, for Apple, the control is a good thing. I'm sure Microsoft would like that too, but they simply can't. And companies will make these apps available for ARM Macs because that's all there'll be. They don't have a choice, so for the end user, everything will be practically the same.
  • I appreciate this whole string of conversation, but I think everyone is somewhat overstating the importance of this move in the short term at least. Apple doesn't have a very big portion of the desktop and laptop market. I also assume they will have some of the same growing pains as chrome OS in terms of tablet and phone apps not working well on a laptop. Yes they will be able to push for cohesion from developers, but that doesn't guarantee success for MacOS on arm. Also they likely won't sell only arm based MacBooks. So yeah overblown, but overall good for x64 and x32 bit on arm in terms of making it better
  • Arm chips are already i3/i5 performance. But with double,almost triple the battery life. For millions of office of workers doing “real work” that is all the performance they need. CAD, 3D is not where the majority of of PC specs need to be. Of course it depends on your sector, but in my clients fleet of 5000 PCs the above normal PC machines are less than 200. The rest are boring i3/i5 work horses.
  • It's a common misconception to think that ARM chips are "phone" chips that are somehow inferior to their desktop PC counterparts. The ones in phones are designed as such because of power consumption/thermal needs, but they can definitely be scaled up for desktop use and Apple's new iPad ARM chip proves it can go toe-to-toe even with Intel's offerings. ARM is a more power-efficient architecture and can run anything x86 can if you compile for it.
  • How is Apple's Enterprise doing? Their nonexistent presence in that space will always be a problem. As to why one would need Bootcamp in the 1st place!
  • Not their problem until users that now use Windows in a mac realize that the programs that they need and are Windows only are not and won't be in the Apple ecosystem. They are not now when Windows and macOS share architecture, they will be less when macOS goes only arm.
  • Not really. While Apple does hold only a very miniscule part of the computer market, there are those who insist on trying to make their consumer-grade OS work in institutions and enterprises that require higher-end solutions that simply are not available natively for macOS. Some of those fanboy types who just NEED to use a Mac in the enterprise, still need to run Windows for some of their corporate and institutional applications, so they're going to be stuck. Either they give up their Macs at work, or find other jobs. From at IT admin standpoint, the latter option is preferable, for me.
  • Nope. If you’ve got Macs you’ve got them. If you don’t have them, you don’t have them. This chip change isn’t going to change the enterprise dynamic. This is for Mac refreshes. The new models will all eventually be Arm. That’s it.
  • It means less freedom. Enjoy your wall garden.
  • If Apple make all apps work on Arm it will be tremendous. Truly all day battery life, instant on.
    If MS made WoA work with all apps natively it too would be truly awesome. I guess they didn’t want to upset Intel. MS need to leave chipZilla behind. Arm FTW
  • Apples switch to arm comes years after Ms. Also as far as boot camp goes... Maybe an arm based arm only boot camp is in the works. For example one that runs windows on arm natively in boot camp for arm for apple os (arm)
  • That device exists, it is called Surface Pro X (and countless other ARM-based Windows devices from Samsung, Lenovo, HP, and Huawei)
  • Apple wants to go their own way, let them.
    Who cares if they want to run windows programs. If you want to run them properly, you will stick with Intel PC's. Tough luck for Apple users, they can live in the ARM world. later
    -1
  • I like how the Verge article makes it sound like Microsoft is at fault for this. It's totally Apple's decision to stop booting alternate operating systems on their hardware, and I don't see how they'll let any other OS vendor build the OS for their chips. However, who knows what things will look like in two years from now.
  • But of course, Apple pays The Verge out of their pocket.
  • I think Apple will inevitably have to keep making x86_64 machines. The thing is, unlike software, hardware designs are pretty 'standard' in the sense that, there's only so many architectures out there and so many foundries to make the chips. The question is what performance gains can truly be achieved from an ARM soc compared to x86_64 for the same power budget when using professional tools? And when power is not a critical limitation (desktops, workstations)? And expect the x86_64 chips to naturally improve both from architecture and process nodes (as AMD has demonstrated using chiplets). So the question is, what do you truly gain from going 'fully' into ARM in a few years, when x86_64 chips with equivalent (and probably superior in many pro workloads) performance with existing mature software is also available?
  • "So the question is, what do you truly gain from going 'fully' into ARM in a few years, when x86_64 chips with equivalent (and probably superior in many pro workloads) performance with existing mature software is also available?" There was no particular reason why you couldn't ask this question 10 years ago. So you can know the answer very well. Yes it may change in the next 10 years but it is unlikely. Aside from that pure tech stack that Intel/AMD failed to replicate in those 10 years (a real good connected standby), Apple will gain to support only one platform and iterate faster. For many years features came a year or two later on macOS when comparing to iOS or sometimes even opposite. This won't be the case anymore. Just for an example, though it is much less synergy and much smaller effect, if Microsoft dropped ARM support it could put dozens of engineers to other tasks and Windows would progress quicker. Not to say that it should do it, but this is a simple and obvious fact.
  • What does The Verge have to do with it? It was MS who said that they are only licensing Windows for ARM to OEMs, which therefore precludes Boot Camp on an ARM Mac. Talk about shooting the messenger.
  • I'm not shooting the messenger, just the message. If Apple wanted Windows to run on its own processors, they'd simply work with Microsoft to make that happen; just as they've done with Office. However, Apple already said (in the WWDC quote) that they have no interest in alternate operating systems. I've found it interesting to go to Tech conferences and see many people with their Apple-logo Windows systems. That won't be happening much longer.
  • Windows isn't the only OS you could boot to with BootCamp. You could install and boot in Linux. That will no longer be an option as Apple stated they will no longer support booting into another OS, not just Windows. If you want to run Linux in the future it will be via virtualization. How/if you run Windows is up in the air.
  • again, just buy a PC
  • I don't see why Microsoft couldn't release Windows on ARM as a downloadable ISO to run in a VM so I hope they'll announce something in that direction.
  • Windows ARM version is mostly a firmware similar to the upcoming Windows 10X. You would need a toolkit to install on a computer, then connect the other device over USB to transfer the firmware. This is the same process for when you want to flash a new version of Windows Phone, or Android Phone.
  • Is that so? I'd like to read more about that, do you have a source?
  • It's long been a source of annoyance to me - I'm sure to others as well - that Apple touted the ability to run Windows on a Mac as a reason that Macs were better than PCs. It can certainly be advantageous for a user to be able to do that but it's certainly not because Macs are better. It's because Microsoft allows Windows to be run on a Mac while Apple explicitly prohibit MacOS from being run on anything but a Mac. That's their prerogative, of course, but Microsoft are now really just doing what Apple have been doing all along. There will undoubtedly be those who try to imply or outright state that Microsoft are the bad guys here.
  • All in all, Apple is going in the right direction. Microsoft is becoming pure software company once again and only time will tell if this was a good decision.
  • Surface and XBox are not pure software. Doubt those are going away any time soon.