Can the Mac Studio run Windows? Yes, with some work

Can the Mac Studio run Windows? Yes, with some work

The recently-launched Mac Studio is one of the most powerful Macs ever, if not the most powerful one. With Apple touting performance on par with the highest-end desktop PCs in a fraction of the size, it’s understandable if many users are interested in getting one. But most users are probably used to Windows, and plenty of apps are only available on Windows, so being restricted to macOS can be a big hurdle. If you want to run Windows on the new Mac Studio, we have good and bad news.

The bad news is that Apple Silicon Macs don’t support Boot Camp, meaning the official way to get Windows and macOS side-by-side is no longer available. Additionally, Apple SIlicon processors use the Arm architecture, and Microsoft doesn’t make Arm-compatible versions of Windows available to general consumers.


Thankfully, there’s a workaround, and it’s all thanks to Parallels. With the latest version of the Parallels Desktop virtualization software, you can install Windows 10 or Windows 11 on your Mac Studio, though it’s not an ideal solution.

How to get Windows on the Mac Studio

If you want to get Windows running on the Mac Studio, you’ll first need a license for Parallels Desktop 17. This is a very popular virtualization software for Mac, which lets you run other operating systems inside macOS through virtualization. With Parallels Desktop 17, this is an especially useful app for Apple Silicon Macs, since it officially supports Windows 10 and 11. The software costs $79.99 per year for the standard version or $99.99 per year for the Pro license. This option gives you more virtual RAM and CPU cores, plus you get premium support and you can get upgraded to the latest version of Parallels Desktop when it comes out. The standard license is also available as a one-time purchase for $99.99.

Next, you’ll need to download a Windows 11 Insider Preview VHDX file for Arm-based PCs. A VHDX file is a virtual hard drive containing the latest Windows 11 build for Insiders. Microsoft doesn’t offer stable versions of Windows 11 this way, so you have to download a preview build. That means you may run into some instability, but it’s the only supported method to get Windows on the Mac Studio. Using a regular ISO file will not work. Keep in mind you’ll also need a Windows 11 license.

Dialog to select an image for a VM in Parallels Desktop

Once you have both of these things, simply run Parallels Desktop and create a new virtual machine. Choose the VHDX file you downloaded as the image for your virtual machine, and follow the steps to finish things up. We have a guide on how to install Windows 10 on an Apple Silicon Mac this way, and you can follow the same systems for Windows 11 if you need more help.

Once that’s done, you can run your Windows 11 virtual machine whenever you need to do something with Windows. You’ll need to enter your license key afterwards by going into the Settings app and into the Activation page.

parallels 17 install complete

Since you’ve installed a preview build of Windows, you’re going to get major updates for your virtual machine. However, you can choose to opt out of preview builds once you’re on a stable release, so you don’t have to deal with unstable software.

This is a somewhat costly and cumbersome solution to get Windows running on the Mac Studio, but if you’re willing to deal with that, you can buy it below, along with Parallels Desktop 17. We also have a product key for Windows 10 Home below, which will work for Windows 11, too. With most of the Mac lineup being upgraded to Apple Silicon, this looks like it’ll be the only way to run Windows on Macs going forward.

    The new Mac Studio is powered by Apple Silicon, but it can run Windows through virtualization.
    Parallels Desktop virtualization software for running Windows or Linux on macOS. The latest version also supports Apple Silicon Macs and Windows on Arm.
    Product key to activate Windows 10 or 11.

About author

João Carrasqueira
João Carrasqueira

Editor at XDA Computing. I've been covering the world of technology since 2018, but I've loved the field for a lot longer. And I have a weird affinity for Nintendo videogames, which I'm always happy to talk about.

We are reader supported. External links may earn us a commission.