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Video details ARM Windows virtualization on M1 Macs, nearly 2x faster performance than Surface Pro X

Last week we saw the first successful virtualization of ARM Windows 10 on an M1 Mac. The good news is that it even appeared to be “pretty snappy.” Now we’ve got a look at a helpful walkthrough and peek at real-world performance in a new video, including the M1 Mac mini blowing away Microsoft’s Surface Pro X.

Alexander Graf was the first to successfully run an ARM Windows virtualization on an M1 Mac. He used the QEMU open source machine emulator and an Insider Preview of Windows.

Now, based on the work by Graf, there’s a new build of the open source ACVM launcher (by Khaos Tian and 3 others) that works with QEMU to run ARM Windows on ARM Macs.

How to run ARM Windows on M1 Macs

YouTuber Martin Nobel shared a useful video of the process to run an ARM Windows virtualization on Apple Silicon as well as a real-world look at the overall impressive performance considering it’s an unofficial workaround.

Impressively, the Martin’s M1 Mac mini benchmarked much higher than Microsoft’s Surface Pro X…almost doubling the single-core score, and coming in almost 2,000 higher in the multi-core score. Sure it’s not a desktop like the Mac mini, but you can get about the same performance from the $999 M1 MacBook Air, a closer competitor to the $999 Surface Pro X.

Windows on M1 Mac ARM virtualization benchmark
Top: M1 Mac mini ARM Windows virtualization Geekbench scores, bottom: Surface Pro X scores

As a refresher, here’s the trouble with Windows officially running on Apple Silicon Macs…

Apple’s VP of software engineering Craig Federighi said that the ARM version of Windows 10 could run natively on Apple Silicon M1 Macs but was “really up to Microsoft.”

A little background of the pickle with Windows on M1 Macs is that Microsoft’s current licensing doesn’t allow its ARM version of Windows 10 to be used by Apple (since it’s not preinstalled). And previously, Microsoft said it didn’t have any news to share when The Verge asked about it making a change to allow Boot Camp on ARM Macs.

In the meantime, we’ve seen apps like CrossOver bring support for Windows apps on Apple Silicon Macs via emulation. And Parallels just announced today that it has a version of its Windows virtualization software in the works that has M1 compatibility.

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