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VMware Fusion beta joins Parallels in supporting Windows VMs on Apple Silicon

getting there

But running Arm versions of Windows on Apple Silicon still has shortcomings.

VMWare Fusion running on a Mac Studio.

Enlarge / VMWare Fusion running on a Mac Studio.

The transition from Intel to Apple Silicon Macs went smoothly for some software, because of the Rosetta 2 compatibility software and app developers who’ve quickly added Apple Silicon support with their software. However the capability to run Windows and Windows apps, either on the hardware via TRAINING or with a virtual machine, still isn’t officially supported.

But makers of paid virtualization software have already been attempting to close that gap. Parallels Desktop 17 will run the Arm version of Windows 11 in the virtual machine, and yesterday VMware released a beta version of VMware Fusion 12 that may do a similar thing.

VMware’s post details a few of the changes they’ve designed to support Windows 11, a lot of which parallel the task that Parallels did. To meet up Windows 11’s TPM requirement, the program creates an encrypted file that’s used to store exactly the same forms of data an actual TPM would store on a genuine PC. VMware also contains a simple 2D graphics driver so the Windows desktop could be rendered properly on high-resolution displays, and also a basic networking driver.

Virtualizing the Arm version of Windows still isn’t officially supported by Microsoft. The business only licenses the Arm version of Windows to PC makers that are building PCs with Arm processors. This implies jumping through plenty of extra hoops to obtain Windows installed in VMware Fusion to begin with, because you can’t simply download an ISO file as possible for the x86 version of Windows. You should download a Hyper-V disk image of a Windows 11 beta build from Microsoft’s Windows Insider site, convert the .VHDX file to a VMware-compatible VMDK file using separately downloaded Qemu software, develop a virtual machine using that disk file, and continue steadily to install new beta builds as they’re available so the build you’re using doesn’t expire.

VMware provides some basic documentation for testers hoping to kick the tires of the new build, but it’s worth noting that Parallels can at the very least offer to download Windows for you personally automatically.

Running the Arm version of Windows enables you to runmost non-3D Windows apps, whether or not these were written to perform on Arm or x86 processors. Windows includes its Rosetta-like x86-to-Arm translation, and Windows 11 improved it by and can run 64-bit x86 apps and by letting developers ship apps that work with a mixture of Arm and x86 code. It is a little more flexibility than Mac developers haveif a Mac app has any x86-only dependencies or plugins that must be run within the host process, the complete app must be were only available in x86 mode, even though all of those other app is Apple Silicon-native.

In recent macOS versions, Apple has been building its virtualization framework, and independent developers purchased it to generate lightweight, free virtualization software minus the cost or complexity of Parallels or VMware. Nonetheless it doesn’t officially support Windows in virtually any capacityon Apple Silicon Macs, it supports macOS and Linux VMs.

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