Macs & Windows, never to meet again (on Apple Silicon, anyway)

Windows on ARM on Apple Silicon – An Open Conversation

Microsoft has never sustained Windows on any platform besides x86. What would make Windows on ARM succeed where others have failed?

I first wrote those words almost 11 years ago in Jan. 2011, and restated them then in May of 2012, before Windows RT (Oct. 2012-Jan. 2016) had even shipped.

The program to make Windows run on ARM (code-named “LongARM”) began in the Windows Core OS team… it must be nearing 20 years ago, when Longhorn was an overweight, out of control freight train overloaded with random features.

The belief that Windows could ever succeed on ARM was a moonshot that some within the org laughed off when the project was initially approved—but it was approved, and the team working on it did amazing work to make it happen – of course it didn’t see the light of day for quite some time.

I hadn’t realised that Microsoft had been trying to get Windows onto ARM processors for that long!

The article goes into detail on why Windows on ARM hasn’t worked out thus far, and why dreams of running Windows on ARM on Apple Silicon will remain just that, dreams, no matter what the makers of Parallels Desktop might claim.

The advice at the end is sobering:

For 15 years, the Mac and the world of Windows PCs ran on the same gauge track. A Mac could easily be a Windows PC. Between the death of Boot Camp and the move to Intel, and Microsoft’s multiple clarifications about not licensing and not supporting Windows on Apple silicon, Apple is running on a new gauge of track. It’s time to stop trying to make Macs run Windows. If you want to run Windows and run any app you want on it, buy an x64 PC.

If you want a Mac, buy an Apple silicon Mac. If you want to run Windows on ARM, buy a new Qualcomm-based Windows PC with it preinstalled. If you’re running either one and you need to run an old Windows app? Use Windows 365, VDI, or an older Windows PC to run it.

If you’ve been a fan of Boot Camp or making your Mac run Windows, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. It’s pretty clear that it’s over.

Use what you use and be happy

Heartily agree with this post from Greg Morris:

Now my tools mean very little to me. Sure, I have strong preferences towards iPhones and particularly macOS, but they are not part of me any longer. I love technology, and mainly stick to Apple products as I know them the best, but I can’t be as evangelical for them as I used to be able to. In many respects the tribalism we feel is natural, no one likes things they love receiving negativity but it gets a bit much after a point. Use what you use and be happy.

As someone who has used Windows, macOS, iOS / iPadOS and Android multiple times over the decades, I’m long past the point where I feel like evangelising for any of them. The ‘perfect’ system or environment will never exist, because we are all different and user our devices in different ways. Ideally, the device or OS should:

  1. Be reliable,
  2. Be as secure as possible,
  3. Keep my documents and data where I need them, without messing anything up,
  4. Keep out of the way until I need something from it.

That isn’t much to ask, is it?

Like Greg, I primarily use Apple devices these days, because for the most part they work well for me and don’t give me much trouble. But I don’t feel the need to defend Apple, because I can see that they fall short in several areas on the list above. My devices are tools, not fashion statements. As such, I choose to use them in ways that prioritise my needs over Apple’s.