Apple’s M1 MacBooks have better battery life and performance improvement over their Intel siblings. But they can’t run programs formatted for Intel processors until they’re recompiled for ARM. That’s getting better every day, and now Parallels works on M1 Macs, and can even run Windows 10. Kind of.
To be clear, a few programs meant for Intel processors can be run through emulation, but doing that typically leads to slow and frustrating performance. When a developer recompiles for ARM, it gives the program a speed boost on an M1 Mac, and in some cases, it may perform even better than it did on Intel, thanks to Apple’s careful designs.
Unfortunately, one feature you do lose with an M1 Mac is Bootcamp—you can’t partition the hard drive and install Windows. If you wanted to run Windows 10 apps on an M1 Mac, you had to use emulation on emulation options like Crossover. First, you used emulation to run Crossover; then, it used emulation to run Windows 10 apps. It’s a “better than nothing, but not as good as native speeds” solution. And that’s why the latest update to Parallels is exciting.
Parallels now runs natively on an M1 Mac, no emulation required. That gets rid of half the “emulation on emulation” problem, and Parallels claims you can run some programs at “native speeds.” Notice that’s “some” programs, and there are a few other catches as well.
You’ll have to use a Windows 10 ARM edition, and that’s only available as a Windows Insider Preview right now—so expect some stability problems. And when it comes to Windows 10 ARM, much like MacOS for M1 Macs, it can only natively run programs compiled for ARM. Anything already set up for that will run at “native speeds.” But if it’s an x86 (32 bit Intel or AMD style processor) program, Windows 10 ARM will employ emulation to run it.
Still, it’s a step forward, and Parallels says that in some cases the M1 version of Parallels program may run better than the Intel version. The company went on to say:
We received enthusiastic feedback about the remarkable performance of both the Technical Preview of Parallels Desktop 16 for M1 Mac and Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview as well as x86 applications and games, including Rocket League, Among Us, Roblox, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sam & Max Save the World and many others. Testers loved Parallels Desktop’s easy-to-use features and seamless integration of Windows with macOS Big Sur, which increased productivity.
To get the new features, you’ll need to update Parallels to version 16.5, which is out now. The company even put together a getting started video to help you get everything set up.
If you want to run Windows programs on a Mac, Parallels is an easy way to get the job done. No need to partition hard drives, or run Bootcamp. And now it works on M1 Macs too!