How to Run Windows on Mac Computers with M1 Processor Using Parallels Software

ARM-based Mac users can use ARM windows with software named Parallels Desktop 16. How is it possible to use this software to run windows?

The developer company has optimized Parallels Desktop 16 software for Macs equipped with an M1 processor; this means that new Mac computers can run ARM-based windows and related software on the Mac operating system. If you are a tech news fan, you know that Apple recently unveiled M1 processors based on the ARM architecture and instructions.

New Mac computers bring unparalleled efficiency and power, but due to the change in architecture from x86 to ARM64, many software applications have not been optimized for the new architecture. With Microsoft’s recent decision, they haven’t made Windows on Arm available to Mac users. However, the good news is that applications are rapidly updating to support native new processors, while software such as Parallels will somehow make up for not having Windows.

The company has recently released a technical demo of the Parallels 16, which is compatible with Mac computers with the M1 processor and performs surprisingly well. The version named “Apple Silicon of Parallels” is optimized for ARM-based operating systems; hence, it does not support Windows 10-x86 and requires an ARM-based version of Windows to run.

Besides good performance, the software has weaknesses and shortcomings in Parallels and Microsoft’s view. In other words, it certainly cannot act as an ultimate replacement for the original version or boot camp of the x86 version of Windows 10. For instance, x86 apps will not run during startup. Furthermore, evidence indicates that it will be impossible to suspend and resume a virtual machine. Likewise, while using the VM, the close button will not work, and you need to turn off the virtual machine completely. We will show you how to use this software to run ARM Windows on new Mac computers, including MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch and Mac mini equipped with M1 processor.

After installation, Parallels makes use of technical previews to delineate some details on using an ARM-based VM.

The steps you need to take to download and run this software are as follows:

  • Download the software from the company website and install the technical preview of Parallels Desktop 16 software for Mac computers equipped with M1 processors. After the installation, the company will send you an activation code.
  • To receive ARM-based Windows, you need to register with the Windows Insider Program. Then, it will help if you get the Windows 10 Client ARM64 Insider Preview.
  • After opening the Parallels software, you need to drag the file named Windows10_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64_en-us to the Mac OS installation assistant and drop it to the Create section.
  • The software creates a new ARM-based Windows 10 in the virtual machine, and in this step, you have to log in to the Parallels system account. After logging in, you need to apply the activation code you received earlier.
  • Upon activation, Parallels 16 configures the Windows 10 VM, installs the needed widgets, and finally completes the ARM-based Windows 10 installation and setup.

Disable time synchronization

When you first run Parallels for Mac computers with the M1 processor, remember to disable the Time Sync option. Otherwise, the Windows Virtualization Machine may not work correctly. To disable time synchronization, you need to select the “Actions” section in the Parallels menu and choose “Config.” Then, select the Options tab, click on More Options, select Do Not Sync in the drop-down box beside Time Sync, and finally exit the opened windows.

  • Type “Insider” in the search bar of the Windows and select Windows Insider Program.
  • Enter the Diagnostics & Feedback settings to enable optional diagnostic data, which is necessary for optimization.
  • Then, select the link associated with your Windows Insider account and log in to your Windows account.
  • You need to click on the Beta Channel in the Internal Settings part to activate the Dev Channel for accessing the latest updates.
  • Afterwards, click the Home button to go back to the main Windows settings page. Finally, go to the Update & Security and check for the last updates.
  • Following the previous step, you will have to wait for the last preview of the developer version named Windows 10 Insider Preview to show up. For installing the latest developer version, click the Download and Install button under the build description. Note that it will take a few minutes to complete the download and installation of Windows. Hence, you need to be patient during installation. After the installation is complete, the device will restart to reinstall the Parallels tool, which requires another restart when the installation is complete.

To get more information on adding a 64-bit program simulator to ARM-based Windows 10, you can visit the Microsoft blog post at this link.

Some Suggestions for Better Performance

It is recommended that you change the program’s default processing cores to four to get the best performance. Because all Mac computers with the M1 processor have an octa-core CPU, the Mac OS retains access to the remaining four cores. To increase kernel allocation, turn off the Windows Virtualization Machine, select the Action part in the menu, and choose Config. Then, select CPU and Memory in the Hardware section, and use the slider next to the processors for increasing it from two to four cores. Ultimately, close the Config window and restart the virtual machine.

When you are in desktop mode, it is possible to emulate programs based on ARM64 instructions and x86 and x64 programs. Unfortunately, as mentioned initially, 32-bit ARM-based programs, including Skype and the Windows Store, do not work, and launching these programs will lead to errors. We should note that apps such as Microsoft Edge and other native ARM64 programs run relatively well.

Here is a comment from a member of the 9to5Mac forum on using Parallels:

I got the Steam app and tested the Rocket League game to evaluate its performance. It wasn’t perfect in terms of gaming experience and certainly did not run at 60fps, but it was playable. I can also use this software to watch 4K videos and content through the Microsoft Edge browser on YouTube and edit photos using Affinity Photo software.

In general, I was impressed by the consistency and smoothness of the animations and the performance of this software in the game’s initial run. Given that I had dedicated four processing cores to the virtual machine and worked with half of the system resources, the geek benchmark scores were relatively impressive.

Running Windows on Parallels software on Apple Silicon processors will be by no means perfect, but the results show that it is much better than previously thought and may improve with subsequent updates. If there is a specific program in Windows that you want to run, you may be surprised by the software results. You can watch the video below for more information.

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