Can the MacBook Air (2022) run Windows? Yes, but it takes some work
Apple recently introduced the second generation of Apple Silicon, starting with the Apple M2 chip. This new processor is debuting inside the all-new MacBook Air, and it delivers some big performance improvements over the previous generation. But Apple Silicon is still relatively new, and there’s a lot that’s different with this Arm-based architecture. So, you may be wondering whether the 2022 MacBook Air can run Windows. Well, it can, but it’s not as simple as you’d want it to be.
First off, Apple has removed Boot Camp from Apple Silicon Macs altogether. Boot Camp was the primary way to run Windows on Macs, so this makes things a bit more complicated since you now have to rely on third-party software. You also need a version of Windows designed to run on Arm-based processors. And while Microsoft does make Windows for Arm, it’s not available to download – the only official way to get it is by buying an Arm device with Windows already installed.
That means some workarounds are necessary, but it is technically possible to run Windows on the MacBook Air. To do that, you’ll need the help of Parallels Desktop, which is a paid software, meaning not only that you need to buy a Windows license, but also a Parallels Desktop license.
How to install Windows on your MacBook Air
As we’ve mentioned, the first thing you’ll need in order to run Windows on your 2022 MacBook Air is a license to Parallels Desktop 17. This is the latest version of Parallels- virtualization software, and the key here is that it officially supports Windows 10 and 11 on Apple Silicon Macs. That means you can expect the company to continue offering support and technical assistance if you have any issues. Parallels Desktop 17 is available as a subscription service starting at $79.99 per year. The Standard Edition is also available as a one-time purchase for $99.99, but that means you don’t get premium 24/7 support or upgrades to the latest version.
Next, you’ll need to download Windows, but as we’ve mentioned, you can’t really download Windows for Arm devices in a typical way. The only way to download Windows for Arm is through the Windows Insider program. If you go to the Windows Insider Preview downloads page, you can download a VHDX file, which is basically a virtual hard drive with Windows 11 already installed. But because this is part of the Insider program, it’s not a finalized version of Windows 11 – it’s a preview build, meaning you may run into some stability issues. You’ll also need a Windows license, of course.
Once you have these things, it’s fairly easy to get started. You can fire up Parallels Desktop and create a new virtual machine (VM), selecting your VHDX file as the image for it. We have a more detailed guide on how to install Windows on Apple Silicon Macs. You may want to check it out if you need step-by-step instructions on how to set it up. Do keep in mind that guide is focused on Windows 10, but the process is essentially the same for creating the VM.
Once you’ve set up the VM, you’ll need to go into the Settings app on Windows 11 and go to the Activation page (in the System section) to enter your license key in order to activate Windows. Something else you’ll probably want to do is head into the Windows Update section and then choose Windows Insider Program. From here, turn on the option to Unenroll this device when the next version of Windows releases. This will make it so that you no longer receive Insider builds once the next major version of Windows is available, so you can actually have a stable version of Windows installed.
Indeed, running Windows on the 2022 MacBook Air, or any Mac powered by Apple Silicon, is more cumbersome and expensive than on Intel-based Macs, but the option does exist. If you love the new MacBook Air but you need specific Windows apps, this is your only solution. Otherwise, you can try to buy a refurbished older MacBook Air, or go with a Windows laptop instead – there are plenty of great laptops in the Windows space, too.