The Future of Windows on ARM64 for M1 Macs (aka the Future of RISC vs. CISC)

Discussion in 'Parallels Desktop for Apple Silicon (M1) Mac' started by SamS4, Oct 19, 2021.

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Will Windows 11 ARM64 continue to run on the M1 Macs?

  1. YES

  2. NO

  3. NOT SURE

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  1. SamS4

    SamS4 Bit Poster

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    [This is a re-post of an entry created for a thread on running Quicken and QuickBooks in Parallels for the M1 Mac with some minor modifications. My goal is to share my perspective on the future of Windows 11 for ARM64 running on the Apple M1 chip, and I've added some reference links for those who are interested. I've also tried to add a Poll to capture your thoughts about whether Windows has a future on the M1 Mac or not (hope I did it right).]

    Since 1983 Microsoft has built its Windows OS to run on the CISC architecture of the Intel product family. Sometime in 2012 they built their first hardware platforms around an ARM processor (a RISC architecture that much faster than CISC), and created Windows RT. They have continued to develop Windows for ARM64 processors that come in current Surface computers (see this link -- https://techcommunity.microsoft.com...porting-windows-10-on-arm-in-the/ba-p/2118048).

    By committing low-power Surface laptops to an ARM64 architecture, Microsoft is committing to updating and maintaining Windows 11 on ARM64. Surface laptops on ARM64 CPUs get much faster performance, generate much less heat, and have better battery life. Note that Microsoft DOES NOT create their own processors. Currently they use the AMD Ryzen CPU chip (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/surface/surface-laptop-processors), which is another ARM architecture licensed from ARM Holdings (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARM_architecture).

    Also, please note that Microsoft never has supported MacBooks in the past. They simply supported the architecture of the Intel chips, whether they were produced by Intel, or AMD, or someone else, and regardless of which PC manufacturer built a product around those chips. They didn't "partner" with Intel or AMD - they simply made the Windows OS work on that CPU architecture.

    In fact it was Apple that supported Microsoft by creating the Bootcamp capability in MacOS to install and run Microsoft Windows in a disk partition, so all this talk of whether Microsoft will support the M1 chip is really ironic - they never have supported the Apple MacBook family, it was Apple supporting Microsoft. Parallels created their Parallels Desktop product to allow Mac users to run Windows apps within MacOS without the need for Bootcamp, which is much more flexible. There are no "hooks" in Windows for running in MacOS - all of the magic is handled by Parallels.

    Any company that designs and fabricates a chip that supports the ARM architecture can run Windows ARM64. Apple's M1 CPUs support the ARM architecture, and I expect Parallels to support the Virtual Machine software layer running on the M1 chips "officially" soon, otherwise they are out of business.

    On another point - have you read about the performance of the new Apple M1 Pro and M1 Max laptops? My feeling is that we are at a transition point in personal computing where all chipmakers are going to have to pivot to the ARM architecture, and Apple has a really big head start given that their processors are created on a 5 nanometer fabrication process. Other CPU designers simply can't afford to spend time designing another CISC CPU that is are slower, hotter, and has battery life that much less than an ARM chip. Can you imagine trying to run a smartphone OS on an Intel CPU? Every smartphone, and every tablet computer is running on a CPU that is compliant with the ARM64 architecture.

    My guess is that in 5 years the competition between the RISC and CISC architectures will be over, and nearly all PCs will run on ARM. Microsoft wants to remain in the OS business whether their Surface laptops continue to be offered or not, so my guess is that the future of the Windows ARM64 is secure. (https://www.laptopmag.com/news/apple-m1-vs-intel-cpu-this-is-the-best-processor-for-your-laptop)
     
    JorgenL likes this.
  2. SamS4

    SamS4 Bit Poster

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  3. MichaelH63

    MichaelH63 Kilo Poster

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    Yes, it will.
    The bigger question is whether MS will eventually make the ARM version of Windows available for download like the Intel version or continue to offer it only to OEMs. The main thing that makes running Windows on the M1 more difficult than on an Intel Mac is the lack of an easily obtainable iso.
     
  4. SamS4

    SamS4 Bit Poster

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    I agree with your point. We can't always be in the "Windows Insider" world - we need a .VHDX file (this is the install extension for ARM executables) that is available for license and ideally can be purchased through Parallels.
     
  5. MichaelH63

    MichaelH63 Kilo Poster

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    749
    Fortunately we are no longer limited to Insider Dev builds. That is still the easiest way to install Windows on an M1 Mac, but using uupdump.net to create an iso allows us to install non-Insider builds too.
     
  6. DarioS2

    DarioS2 Bit Poster

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    AMD Ryzen CPU used in MS Surface is not ARM architecture.
     
  7. SamS4

    SamS4 Bit Poster

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  8. AlasdairS1

    AlasdairS1 Bit Poster

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    Just to be really clear - the Surface Pro X is using an ARM64 Microsoft-tweaked Qualcomm chip. The rest of the Surface Pro series (which vastly outsell the new-ish 'X' variant) use Intel x86/x64 chips. Surface Laptops also use x86/x64 from Intel and AMD. You would need to go back a few years to find the 'Surface RT' models that also used ARM, but were swiftly discontinued. The ARM chips Microsoft has access to are very far behind what Apple is shipping as the M1. Apple is very far ahead in terms of ARM performance compared to others (performance per watt, manufacturing process). There are also issues with how long Qualcomm and others support their chips for - it's partly why Google, in their new Pixel 6 phones, has developed their own SoC and moved away from Qualcomm.

    As for Windows on Apple M1/ARM, Microsoft has a long history of neither endorsing but also not blocking usage like this. The numbers of users is tiny compared to their install base, and they avoid the need to officially support it - despite getting revenue as some of us will buy a Windows license to activate our installations.
     
    SamS4 likes this.
  9. DarioS2

    DarioS2 Bit Poster

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    This is not correct. Ryzen family includes only x86 instruction set processors. K-12 you refer on was an ARM based CPU, but it is not produced for some time and was not part of Ryzen family. AMD recently expressed they readiness to offer ARM based CPU if they find market demand. That statement can lead us in speculation that AMD is still ARM license owner and maybe has ARM CPUs in their test lab
     

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