Windows teams up with Parallels for official Windows 11 virtual machines on Apple Silicon Macs

Parellels and Windows 11 running on a MacBook
(Image credit: Future /iMore)

Microsoft and Parallels are teaming up to officially bring Windows 11 to your Apple silicon-powered Mac. The pair of companies now offer ARM-compatible virtualized machines for you to use, with one-click installation.

Alludo (the rebranded Corel) has previously announced the compatibility in its Parallels software before, but Microsoft now confirms and makes it official with its new support page (opens in new tab).

This could be very exciting for applications that have traditionally not worked very well on Mac, such as some games or other pieces of software. At the moment, however, things seem a little more restrictive and complicated.

Compatibility issues

Windows 11 runs in what's called Parallels® Desktop version 18, an authorized version available through the new partnership. The program itself is not new, but the fact that Microsoft is involved is. You'll be able to run all the core Windows apps, such as the Edge browser, but other software will be a little trickier. There is a full list on the Microsoft support page (opens in new tab), but here is the general gist of things.

Perhaps most devastating is that DirectX 12 won't run, so all those hoping to play the latest games will be left disappointed. Looks like we won't be able to see just how powerful the Apple Silicon chips are for gaming quite yet. 

Also unavailable are apps that require an "additional layer of virtualization", listed by Microsoft below:

32-bit apps from the Windows store will also not work, given that "The preferred customer experience is to run 64-bit Arm apps". That doesn't mean that all 64-bit apps will work, and compatibility will be on an app-to-app basis.

To circumnavigate the limitations, Microsoft has Windows 365 Cloud PCs. This is another option that will let users run all Windows-compatible apps in an officially supported virtual machine. This will run on all M-chip Macs including Apple's best MacBook, the new MacBook Pro for 2023, and is available on a per-user subscription basis from Microsoft.

Tammy Rogers
Buying Guides and Deals Writer

As the Buying Guides and Deals writer for iMore, Tammy puts over a decade of experience in finding the best prices of Apple products to work, helping you save money on the equipment that you want. An audiophile at heart, she loves all things audio and visual, but you’ll also find her drooling over the latest Macs and MacBooks. With a Masters in screenwriting, Tammy likes to spend her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays or driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.