Image: Apple

There’s been a bit of disappointment about how Apple’s new ARM-based Macs don’t natively support Windows (lack of Boot Camp), but that could change in the near future.

In a recent interview with Ars Technica, software engineering chief Craig Federighi clarified that this isn’t a technical issue, as Apple’s M1 chip is fully capable of running Windows 10 on ARM – the real problem is that Microsoft hasn’t agreed to license that version of the OS to anyone aside from OEMs.

“[…] that’s really up to Microsoft,” Federighi responded when asked about Windows running natively on M1 Macs. “We have the core technologies for them to do that, to run their ARM version of Windows, which in turn of course supports x86 user mode applications. But that’s a decision Microsoft has to make, to bring to license that technology for users to run on these Macs. But the Macs are certainly very capable of it.”

Aside from the lack of 64-bit x64 app support (which is reportedly coming soon), Windows 10 on ARM functions similarly to the standard version of the OS. There’s no indication of whether Microsoft will license it out to Apple, however—as some users on MacRumors have pointed out, doing so might increase the popularity of MacBooks for the Windows crowd, which could negatively impact its own Surface devices.

“Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs,” a spokesperson told The Verge this summer. “We nothing further to share at this time.”

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8 Comments

  1. Still seems mostly irrelevant to me.

    The main reason to run bootcamp on a Mac is to get access to the vast software catalog for x86 Windows.

    ARM Windows does not have that vast software catalog, so why even bother?

  2. Virtualized Windows (or rather, emulated, technicallly) would run x86 and x64 Windows stuff though.

    I know ARM windows can run x86, it just had issues with x64. I hope that now that Apple has shown a way to do it that Microsoft can knock it out too.

  3. I dontnsee this as being something Microsoft needs to bother with as it would be a new code branch to put their software on with new constraints. Let the vendors figure out the best kind of emulation and run with it. When it doesnt work point to the vendor and keep refining their core products.
  4. I cannot lie, I keep looking over these **** devices as a replacement for my aging work laptop. I am often far removed from any plug and going from one area to another non-stop with my device.
    The idea of a machine that can handle all my daily tasks, with this level of performance, long battery life, and no fan (macbook air) is rather incredible.
    This device likely still has some growing pains to go through and I am being patient in regards to any purchase. This would only be my second Apple Computer (1st being over two decades ago) since ditching them entirely.
    I really need to get my hands on one and try my companies software catalog out for any issues and see if its even feasible to use BigSur+ARM for my day to day.
  5. I dontnsee this as being something Microsoft needs to bother with as it would be a new code branch to put their software on with new constraints. Let the vendors figure out the best kind of emulation and run with it. When it doesnt work point to the vendor and keep refining their core products.

    Hmm.. need to bother with. Probably not. There aren’t exactly a whole lot of ARM PC laptops out there, other than Surface Pro X, and a couple other one-offs.

    That being said, I really do think mobile (laptop/ultrathin) devices are headed in this direction in a hurry. It’s really hard to deny the battery life and TDP/performance benefits that ARM has brought to Apple. All the other device makers, which have always looked to Apple as the Gold Standard, are going to follow suit as soon as they can get ARM CPUs that are anywhere near the same specification. Of which, I am certain, nVidia will be more than happy to provide.

    Microsoft, in typical Microsoft fashion – definitely knew about all of this early on. It was the entire reason behind Windows RT, and more recently, Surface X. But also in typical Microsoft fashion – in their rush to be first, they got ahead of the technology and the product was just so inferior it put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I think because they saw the benefits early on, and they already have a software stack that’s nearly there…. it wouldn’t be a big push for them to get Windows ARM up to par and capable of running x64 programs in a compatibility layer. That said, I also fully expect Microsoft to dork it up a time or two before some third party nails it, then Microsoft will see how it should be done and fix their own effort to match.

    Now that it’s been done successfully, I think we will see a rapid pivot in that direction. And if Microsoft wants to remain the OS of choice on mobile devices, they will absolutely bother with it. Otherwise, your going to see, probably, a rise in ChromeOS. Yes, Windows compatibility is certainly important, but don’t think that’s the only thing that sells hardware – that only lasts so long without compelling hardware behind it. If you think backwards compatibility is a sure-fire thing and will weigh over other factors in perpetuity, ask IBM how their PC division is going.

  6. Hmm.. need to bother with. Probably not. There aren’t exactly a whole lot of ARM PC laptops out there, other than Surface Pro X, and a couple other one-offs.

    That being said, I really do think mobile (laptop/ultrathin) devices are headed in this direction in a hurry. It’s really hard to deny the battery life and TDP/performance benefits that ARM has brought to Apple. All the other device makers, which have always looked to Apple as the Gold Standard, are going to follow suit as soon as they can get ARM CPUs that are anywhere near the same specification. Of which, I am certain, nVidia will be more than happy to provide.

    Microsoft, in typical Microsoft fashion – definitely knew about all of this early on. It was the entire reason behind Windows RT, and more recently, Surface X. But also in typical Microsoft fashion – in their rush to be first, they got ahead of the technology and the product was just so inferior it put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I think because they saw the benefits early on, and they already have a software stack that’s nearly there…. it wouldn’t be a big push for them to get Windows ARM up to par and capable of running x64 programs in a compatibility layer. That said, I also fully expect Microsoft to dork it up a time or two before some third party nails it, then Microsoft will see how it should be done and fix their own effort to match.

    Now that it’s been done successfully, I think we will see a rapid pivot in that direction. And if Microsoft wants to remain the OS of choice on mobile devices, they will absolutely bother with it. Otherwise, your going to see, probably, a rise in ChromeOS. Yes, Windows compatibility is certainly important, but don’t think that’s the only thing that sells hardware – that only lasts so long without compelling hardware behind it. If you think backwards compatibility is a sure-fire thing and will weigh over other factors in perpetuity, ask IBM how their PC division is going.

    Really I think Samsung has the right idea going forward with Dex mode. Being able to wirelessly connect to any tv that allows it, (and most do in some fashion) and have a full desktop immediately. From a device that fits in my pocket. From a business standpoint that is a win win.

    All you need is a collapsable usb keyboard and mouse to have productivity anywhere with a screen.

  7. Blame Covid19 boredom but I bought one to test out…..
    Being given a return window in early January sure as heck helped push me over the edge.
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