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You Can Forget About Dual-Booting Windows on ARM-Based Macs, For Now

(Image credit: Apple)

For a long time it was rumored that Apple would be equipping Macs with its own, custom-build silicon in the place of Intel's CPUs, and then it finally happened earlier this week. Of course, such a transition wouldn't come without complications, and the latest report is quite significant: you'll no longer be able to dual-boot Windows 10 on your Mac.

This doesn't come as any surprise, given that Windows 10 as most of us know is built for the x86 architecture. But, Microsoft also has an ARM variant of Windows 10, so that could fix this issue, right?

No. In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft said that “Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs." In response to a question about future changes to this policy, Microsoft responded: “we have nothing further to share at this time.”

“Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs."

If you're thinking "Okay, so Microsoft won't license it, but I can just tinker it together, right?" -- let us stop you in your tracks too. Apple also confirmed in a podcast that it would be ditching Boot Camp on the new ARM-based Macs, putting a dent in anyone planning to simply ignore Microsoft's licensing policy.

But, that doesn't mean all hope is lost. Apple has demonstrated Parallels running Linux in a virtual machine, and you can always use a remote desktop to access a Windows system. Neither are ideal solutions though and will come with their own shortcomings.

Don't give up yet...

Of course, today's plans don't set a precedent for future plans. It's very possible that Apple will port Boot Camp to ARM at some point, or that someone from the community will create a bootloader for the ARM-based Macs. Microsoft's limitations are just a matter of policy, and as much as it might be a competitor with Apple, we can only imagine the joy it would bring them to see Windows running on Apple-exclusive hardware.  Either way, even when running ARM Windows 10 on a Mac, you'll still depend on software makers to port their x86 programs to ARM on Windows 10, too.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is working hard on porting Microsoft Office to run on the new Macs, so at least there's that.

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.