What you need to know
- Arm-based Mac devices can now run the Arm-based version of Windows 11 inside a virtual machine with VMware's Fusion 13 software.
- These Mac systems include those with Apple's M1 and M2 processor families, including the iMac, Mac Studio, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro.
- VMware's support for Windows 11 on Arm will give the platform a boost. Windows 11 on Arm can run legacy Windows programs, including win32 and x64 applications, with its built-in emulator.
- After Apple dropped Boot Camp support with its transition to Arm-based architecture on the Mac, the only way to get Windows on a Mac is now through virtual machine. Previously, on Intel-powered Macs, you can dual-boot into Windows with Apple's Boot Camp support.
VMware's latest Fusion 13 for macOS devices will allow Apple's computers to essentially run Microsoft's Windows 11 operating system inside a virtual machine. VMware Fusion 13 will work on Intel-powered as well as Arm-based Macs. VMware Fusion 13 starts at $149 for a new license of VMware Fusion 13 Player, but upgrades start at just $79 if you own a prior version of the software. VMWare Fusion 13 Pro comes in at $199.
On Arm-based devices, like those powered by Apple's custom M1 and M2 families of silicon, VMware Fusion 13 allows Apple's iMac, Mac Studio, Mac mini, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro systems to run the Arm-based version of Windows 11. The Arm-based version is similar to the ones that power Arm-powered systems from HP, Samsung, and Lenovo that are powered by Qualcomm's processor and Microsoft's Arm-based edition of the Surface Pro 9 and Surface Pro X.
Support for OpenGL 4.3 is required on the Mac side, and VMware was able to allow Arm-based Windows 11 to run inside the virtual machine on Fusion 13 due to a new implementation that consists of a virtual Trusted Platform Module, or TPM.
"After years of ongoing development and several Tech Previews, we’re ready to bring Windows 11 and more to both Intel and Apple Silicon Macs with the latest major version of VMware Fusion," the company wrote in a blog post. "In order to achieve support for Windows 11 System Requirements while still providing performant virtual machines, we had to innovate. We’ve delivered a new Virtual Trusted Platform Module (2.0) device that is recognized as a valid TPM, and new encryption method to support that TPM."
On Arm-based Macs with M1 or M2 processors, the version of Windows 11 that's supported by the Fusion 13 virtual machine is the Arm-based edition, so it's not the full x86 variant that's on a majority of Windows systems out there, including gaming PCs and desktops. But because Windows 11 on Arm ships with a built-in emulator, you will still be able to run legacy programs inside the virtual machine. These include older software that's based on the win32 or x64 architectures.
Unlike Apple's emulator that allows older macOS software to run on its own Arm architecture, Microsoft's implementation has been widely criticized for degraded performance resulting in slower speeds in the past.
However, for Mac users who have adopted Apple's latest Arm-based systems, VMware Fusion 13 is a convenient way to test, debug, or run legacy software without having to buy a separate Windows machine. When Apple transitioned its own custom Arm-based processors, the company dropped support for dual-booting into Windows known as Boot Camp, so Mac owners who want to run Windows on their Apple computers will need to rely on virtual machines instead.
Given Apple's bullish approach to Arm computing and Qualcomm's push into the PC market, we are starting to see more PCs with Arm-based processors. These PCs promise better built-in connectivity support for 5G wireless networks, A.I.-based camera algorithms that work with the webcam for more advanced video calling experiences, and a slim-and-light form factor with long battery life. Analysts expect to see an inflection point between Arm-based processors and traditional CPUs made by Intel and AMD in as little as a few years.
On older Intel-based Macs, you'll be able to run the full x86-based version of Windows, not the Arm one.
VMware's latest Fusion 13 brings Windows 11 to Arm-based Apple Mac computers, including the Mac Studio, Mac mini, iMac, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro. Devices running macOS on Apple's M1 and M2 processor families can now run the Arm-based version of Windows 11 in a virtual machine.
Get the Windows Central Newsletter
All the latest news, reviews, and guides for Windows and Xbox diehards.
Chuong's passion for gadgets began with the humble PDA. Since then, he has covered a range of consumer and enterprise devices, raning from smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktops and everything in between for publications like Pocketnow, Digital Trends, Wareable, Paste Magazine, and TechRadar in the past before joining the awesome team at Windows Central. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, when not working, he likes exploring the diverse and eclectic food scene, taking short jaunts to wine country, soaking in the sun along California's coast, consuming news, and finding new hiking trails.