The new Parallels 17 officially lets you run Windows 11 on your Mac

If you buy something from a Verge link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Windows 11 is coming to Macs, even those without Boot Camp. Parallels Desktop 17 will allow Mac users to experience Microsoft’s next version of Windows in a window on their Mac desktop. Parallels supports both Intel and M1 Macs (though there’s a catch for those running Arm-based machines), and can even be used to run the Windows 11 preview for those who can’t wait.

The catch for M1 users is the same as when Parallels first added support for Apple’s latest machines — you’ll only be able to emulate Arm-based operating systems, which means you’ll be limited to Windows on Arm. While it does seem possible to install a Windows 11 preview for Arm machines, you’ll probably want to proceed with caution. Windows on Arm’s x86 emulation has been a bit of a rocky road, and the x64 app emulation is still a work in progress. Basically, if you’re looking to run a virtualized version of Windows on your M1, you’ll still have to deal with the same caveats that would come with running Windows on any other Arm machines.

While M1 users have to deal with Windows on Arm, they also get some performance improvements if they’re coming from Parallels 16: Parallels says that the new version will let M1 Macs get up to 28 percent better DirectX 11 performance, and up to 33 percent faster start times for Windows 10 on Arm Insider Preview VMs. This comes alongside the up to 25 percent faster 2D graphics and up to 6 times faster OpenGL performance that Parallels says will be coming to Windows VMs on all supported Macs, Intel and M1 alike. M1 users will also be able to use BitLocker and Secure Boot thanks to a virtualized TPM.

There are other under-the-hood improvements with Parallels 17 (for example, it’s now a universal app, which should make IT departments’ lives easier), and it’s also getting support for macOS Monterey — the virtualization software will be able to run on macOS 12 computers, as well as create virtual ones.

Parallels has kept the pricing the same this year.
Image: Parallels

If you want the regular version of Parallels Desktop 17, you have the choice of getting a subscription for $79.99 a year, or a perpetual license for $99.99. If you had a perpetual license for a previous version of Parallels, you can upgrade to 17 for $49.99. There’s also Pro and Business editions that cost $99.99 a year. Parallels sells the software on its website, but before you plunk down any cash, it may be worth waiting until Windows 11 launches (potentially in October) to see how well it fares on Parallels — or if Windows 11 is even worth jumping to in the first place.

Comments

I got my father an M1 Mac mini at the beginning of July. He was switching from Windows and had to carry over a super old windows only billing program. I’m shocked but it’s running flawlessly w/ Parallels and Windows for Arm.

The catch for M1 users is the same as when Parallels first added support for Apple’s latest machines — you’ll only be able to emulate Arm-based operating systems, which means you’ll be limited to Windows on Arm. While it does seem possible to install a Windows 11 preview for Arm machines, you’ll probably want to proceed with caution. Windows on Arm’s x86 emulation has been a bit of a rocky road, and the x64 app emulation is still a work in progress. Basically, if you’re looking to run a virtualized version of Windows on your M1, you’ll still have to deal with the same caveats that would come with running Windows on any other Arm machines.

So unless I’m misreading this, this seems to be a Windows in general caveat, not a Windows 11 specific one, right? A Windows 11 that is more likely to get updates to x64 app emulation vs its Windows 10 sibling?

Yes, it’s a Windows on Arm caveat. I brought it up when talking about Windows 11, as I figured some people may want to try Windows on their Macs for the first time with its launch, where they wouldn’t have considered doing it before.
To your point, according to XDA, x64 emulation will be included with Windows 11.

It’s fair to mention the caveats of Windows on Arm, but the main reason that "Windows on Arm’s x86 emulation has been a bit of a rocky road" (as you say) has been the lack of x64 app emulation. This is addressed by Windows 11, for which it is no longer a "work in progress". Microsoft is also making it easier for developers to port existing x64 software to Arm, and we will see more native apps in the future.

With respect to the "catch" of only being able to run Arm operating systems in Parallels on an M1 Mac, this is expected. Just like VMWare, Parallels is a virtual machine hypervisor, not a CPU hardware emulator. Windows on Arm (like macOS) has binary code translation built-in, so customers will be able to run the x86/64 apps they need regardless.

When I used to use a Mac, I always preferred Parallels to Boot Camp, and this looks to be a fine choice for Apple Silicon users needing Windows compatibility. Since the M1 still has a large performance advantage over the fastest Qualcomm CPUs used in Windows devices, I would expect the performance of Windows 11 to be quite good on the M1 Macs under Parallels.

I was under the impression you couldn’t buy Windows for ARM licences? I guess that will probably change with Windows 11 however.

Can confirm it’ll just re-authorize with an existing license. Did that today. So if you have a non-OEM license linked to your Microsoft account you can just transfer that to a Windows 10 ARM install on Parallels 17.

You will need to be in the insider program to get the Windows 10 on ARM installer first though.

I’m eager to give it a try on our M1 iMac. My understanding is that the performance problems in devices like Surface Pro X aren’t caused by any fundamental problem with Windows, but are mostly the result of Qualcomm’s available processors not being quite powerful enough yet to handle x86/64 emulation gracefully.

I’m hoping a virtual machine on an M1 will give some sense of what’s on the horizon with native hardware from Nuvia because I’d love to jump on the WoA train as soon as the hardware is caught up.

View All Comments
Back to top ↑