How to run ARM Windows on an M1 Mac

The launch of the Apple Silicone Institute marked a historic moment for Mac computers but left some users wondering how well Windows works on their machines. 


How to run ARM Windows on an M1 Mac
Run ARM Windows on an M1 Mac


Now, with Parallels Desktop 16 for M1 Mac Technical Preview, users can run the latest edition of Windows on ARM. As a free alternative, we'll also explore how you can run Windows ARM apps using the open-source QEMU emulator and virtual machine app.


Run ARM Windows using Parallels Desktop


The first option to run Windows 10 on ARM using your Mac M1 is to use Parallels Desktop 16 for M1 Mac Tech Preview software. It is essential to note the phrase “Tech Preview” as this software is not fully prime time ready and should not be used on critical hardware. If you don't mind taking a little risk, here's how to get started with Windows on ARM and Parallels Desktop:

  • Step 1: Register for Parallels Desktop for Mac Tech Preview program with Apple M1 Chip (Apple Silicon) and download Parallels Desktop software. When downloading, be sure to take note of your activation key, as you will need it later.
  • Step 2: Sign up for the Windows Insider program and then download the latest version of Windows 10 Insider Preview for ARM64.
  • Step 3: Double click on the Parallels Desktop 16 DMG file that you downloaded in step 1, then double click on the Parallels logo to start the installation process - you will be prompted to enter your activation key. Click Accept and enter your password when prompted during the setup process.
  • Step 4: Once the installation is complete, an installation wizard window will appear - click Continue to go through the process.
  • Step 5: The Create New section of the process will appear. Drag and drop the Windows 10 VHDX file that you previously downloaded in step 2 onto the installation wizard.
  • Step 6: Grab a cup of coffee or tea while the Installation Assistant prepares and installs your copy of Windows 10 on ARM. Once completed, Windows 10 will be ready to use, and you can begin installing your favorite ARM Windows applications.

Also, after installing the program, you may want to ensure that your copy of Windows on an ARM is receiving the latest Tech Preview update. To get the latest updates, search for and open Windows Insider Program Settings, then link the Windows Insider account you originally used to download the Tech Preview.


Run ARM Windows on an M1 Mac
Run ARM Windows using QEMU and ACVM



Run ARM Windows using QEMU and ACVM


Another option to run Windows 10 on an ARM is to use QEMU, which is an open-source emulator and virtualizer. A driver called ACVM can then be paired with the software to make running Windows 10 on ARM a bit easier.

  • Step 1: Sign up for the Windows Insider program, then download the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview for ARM64.
  • Step 2: Download the latest version of the ACVM launcher from GitHub.
  • Step 3: Unzip the ACVM.zip file by double-clicking on it.
  • Step 4: Right-click the ACVM app and select Open; this must be done as the app is from an unknown developer to Apple, and simply double-clicking it will cause it to fail.
  • Step 5: Drag and drop the Windows 10 VHDX file you previously downloaded in Step 1 into the ACVM app onto the main image icon.
  • Step 6: Click Start to boot the machine. Follow the on-screen prompts to install Windows 10 on ARM; this process may take some time.
  • Step 7: Once completed, Windows 10 will be ready to use, and you can begin installing your favorite ARM Windows applications.

Also, after installing the program, you may want to ensure that your copy of Windows is on ARM receiving the latest updates. To get the latest updates, search for and open Windows Insider Program Settings, then link the Windows Insider account you originally used to download the Tech Preview.



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