Can the 24-inch iMac with Apple M1 run Windows 10?
Apple’s new 24-inch iMac is its first desktop PC to include Apple Silicon. If you’re thinking of jumping in and you’ve not played around with an Apple M1 PC before, there are some things that you need to know, such as if you can use external monitors with it. Also, depending on how you’re using your current machine, you might be wondering if you can run Windows 10 on your new M1 iMac.
The answer is yes, but not through traditional means.
Boot Camp no longer exists
Back in 2005 at WWDC, the Cupertino firm announced that Macs would transition from PowerPC to Intel. By 2006, Apple had a product called Boot Camp that shipped with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger. It allowed you to dual-boot Windows and Mac OS X (later renamed to OS X, and then to macOS).
Boot Camp is gone for Apple Silicon Macs. In fact, the icon still shows up, but if you click on it, you’ll be informed that it doesn’t exist.
So no, you can’t run Windows on bare metal, but you can run it through virtualization. This is where Parallels comes in.
Windows 10 Virtualization through Parallels
Parallels makes virtualization software that’s been used for ages. The good news is that Apple M1 support for Parallels is in production now.
Note that these instructions work for any M1 Mac, down to the more affordable MacBook Air (which is a recommended laptop for Apple enthusiasts). However, unless Parallels brings a version of its product to iPadOS, this won’t work for the M1 iPad Pro.
What you need
- A subscription to Parallels Desktop, which is $79.99 for home and student use, or $99.99 per year for Pro or Business Editions. You can get Parallels here.
- A Windows 10 VHDX that’s compiled for ARM64 silicon. Right now, the only images officially available are preview builds. The reason for this is because they’re designed for use in Microsoft’s Hyper-V, and Hyper-V for Windows on ARM is in preview. You can download an image from here. Just like with Boot Camp, you do need to bring your own Windows license.
Getting it set up is pretty straightforward. Just follow the instructions in Parallels Desktop to get started.
Limitations with Parallels Desktop on Apple Silicon
Now that you’ve got Windows 10 up and running on your 24-inch M1 iMac, there are some things you need to know.
- Windows on ARM supports 32-bit ARM apps, 64-bit ARM apps, and emulated x86/x64 apps. The Apple M1 chipset does not support 32-bit ARM apps. There’s no real reason for it to, since there aren’t any 32-bit ARM apps in the Apple ecosystem.
- This is only going to be an issue with some Microsoft Store apps. Microsoft is bringing down x64 versions of its inbox apps. In fact, the first time you open something like the Microsoft Store or Photos, you’ll get a message that the app needs to update.
Parallels Desktop is pretty good
Parallels Desktop does a lot of heavy lifting to bridge the gap between macOS and Windows 10. You can access your macOS files from Windows. In fact, all of the shortcuts on your macOS desktop will show up on the Windows desktop. You can also set defaults where certain things will open in macOS. For examples, from Windows 10 in Parallels, you can set it so your default browser is still Safari.
In conclusion, the short answer is that yes, you can run Windows 10 on the M1 iMac, but there are some limitations. There’s no more Boot Camp, so you’ll have to go with virtualization.