Windows emulation for M1-powered Macs is in active development, Parallels confirms

When Apple announced the switch away from Intel chips this summer, many people have been wondering about Boot Camp’s future. And while Apple has only said that Boot Camp will not work with the new M1-powered Mac computers, companies that build virtualization software may provide a solution down the road. Parallels Desktop, a popular virtualization app for Mac systems with Intel chips, announced today that a new version of the app that can run on these new Mac computers equipped with the Apple M1 chip is in “active development.”

From the Parallels blog (emphasis mine):

Parallels is excited to see the performance, power efficiency and virtualization features that are brought to the Mac with Apple M1 chip. The transition to Macs with the Apple M1 chip should be smooth for most macOS apps thanks to Rosetta technology. Fortunately, our Parallels Access, Parallels Toolbox and Parallels Client software worked smoothly even before Parallels rebuilt them as universal binaries.

However, virtual machines are an exception.

It’s important to note that current versions of Parallels Desktop cannot run virtual machines on Macs with the M1 chip. Good news: A new version of Parallels Desktop for Mac that can run on Macs with the M1 chip is already in active development.

That wasn’t entirely unexpected.

When Apple announced the move to its own silicon for Mac computers during the WWDC 2020 keynote this summer, it demonstrated a prototype version of Parallels Desktop running a Linux virtual machine smoothly on Apple Silicon development hardware. According to the company, the M1-enabled version of Parallels Desktop “has made tremendous progress” since WWDC.

“We switched Parallels Desktop to universal binary and optimized its virtualization code,” reads the post. The M1 version apparently “looks very promising.” Microsoft recently announced it was adding support for Intel-based x64 applications to Windows on ARM. Similar to Apple’s Rosetta technology, this feature will enable Windows customers with ARM-based notebooks to run existing Intel apps that have not been optimized for the ARM instruction set.

I think Apple will definitelly bring Boot Camp to Windows on ARM over time.

Unlike virtualization solutions like Parallels that let you run macOS alongside another operating system such as Windows side by side, Boot Camp lets you boot directly into Windows at startup. In other words, Boot Camp is the best solution for running resource-intensive Windows apps like games and creative software on your Mac while virtualization gives you the convenience of running a Windows app here and there without having to restart the machine.