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Parallels Desktop 16.5 Enables Windows 10 on Mac M1 at Native Speeds

Parallels
(Image credit: Parallels)

Parallels has released a new version of its Parallels Desktop for Mac virtualization software that features full native support for Mac computers equipped with either Apple M1 or Intel processors. The program allows users to run Windows 10 Arm Insider Preview as well as various Linux distributions on systems running the M1 SoC at native speeds. 

Running Windows on Apple's Mac computers may not be a priority for most of their owners, but there are still quite a lot of users who need to run Windows applications from time to time. Since the latest Apple MacBook Air/Pro 13 and MacMini are based on the Arm-powered M1 SoC, it's impossible to install regular Windows 10 as the second OS on them. Furthermore, unlike other programs for Mac, virtualization machines did not run well on M1-based Macs via the Rosetta layer, so Parallels had to redesign its Parallels Desktop to make it run on an Apple's M1 SoC natively. 

Parallels Desktop for Mac 16.5 supports all the capabilities that that users of PDM are used to on Apple M1 systems, including coherence mode, shared profile, and touch bar controls, just to name a few. 

In addition to Windows 10 for Arm, Parallels Desktop for Mac 16.5 also supports guest operating systems on M1 Macs,including Linux distributives Ubuntu 20.04, Kali Linux 2021.1, Debian 10.7, and Fedora Workstation 33-1.2. 

To ensure flawless operation of its Parallels Desktop for Mac virtual machine, Parallel used help of more than 100,000 Mac M1 users who ran Microsoft’s Windows 10 on Arm Insider Preview along with various software from PowerBI to Visual Studio and from SQL server to Meta Trader. In addition, engineers from Parallels did not forget games and ensured that titles like Rocket LeagueAmong UsRobloxThe Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and Sam & Max Save the World worked well on Parallels Desktop for Mac 16.5 and Apple M1-powered systems.

Right now, Parallels Desktop for Mac 16.5 is good enough to launch it commercially, according to the company. 

There are some interesting findings about performance of Apple M1 and Parallels Desktop 16.5 for Mac: 

  • An M1-based Mac running Parallels Desktop 16.5 and Windows 10 Arm consumes 2.5 times less energy than a 2020 Intel-based MacBook Air.
  • An Apple M1 machine running Parallels Desktop 16.5 and Windows 10 Arm performs 30% better in Geekbench 5 than a MacBookPro with Intel Core i9-8950HK in the same conditions.
  • Apple M1's integrated GPU appears to be 60% faster than AMD's Radeon Pro 555X discrete graphics processor in DirectX 11 applications when running Windows using the Parallels Desktop 16.5.

"Apple's M1 chip is a significant breakthrough for Mac users," said Nick Dobrovolskiy, Parallels Senior Vice President of Engineering and Support. "The transition has been smooth for most Mac applications, thanks to Rosetta technology. However, virtual machines are an exception and thus Parallels engineers implemented native virtualization support for the Mac with M1 chip. This enables our users to enjoy the best Windows-on-Mac experience available."

  • CerianK
    I have not used a Mac for 30 years, but this announcement, combined with the M1's power/performance, seems to remove a major obstacle that had driven me away from Macs.
    Maybe time to look into it again... I would love to see a full review down the road that caters to hardcore PC users.
    Reply
  • MasterMadBones
    CerianK said:
    I have not used a Mac for 30 years, but this announcement, combined with the M1's power/performance, seems to remove a major obstacle that had driven me away from Macs.
    Maybe time to look into it again... I would love to see a full review down the road that caters to hardcore PC users.
    It's still Windows for ARM, so the functionality is very limited. I expect performance to tank once you use x86 apps, because they probably won't go through Rosetta but rather the Windows x86 emulation layer.
    Reply
  • BigBlueBomber
    Well, as MasterMadBones says it is Windows on Arm. Limited functionality, still in preview, most apps run in emulation mode. I have used Parallels for Mac very successfully for the last 6 years. Not being able to run Windows x64 on Parallels is a show stopper for me. I cannot even carry over the 3 or 4 Windows VM's I use every day. Looking for a Windows laptop at this point.
    Reply
  • waltc3
    Yes, sort of amusing article title that claims the M1 uses the emulator Parallels to run Windows 10 at native speeds ...;) That's the kind of article Macolytes dearly love, I imagine. It portends great miracles of performance but never delivers. I was going to say, "How can it run Win10x64 for x86 at 'native M1 speeds' since it's running on an x86 emulator?" Then I saw that I'd been sucker-baited into reading on Windows for ARM, which is quite different, and much less functional...;) For the Mac guys, though, details like that usually don't matter.
    Reply
  • watzupken
    CerianK said:
    I have not used a Mac for 30 years, but this announcement, combined with the M1's power/performance, seems to remove a major obstacle that had driven me away from Macs.
    Maybe time to look into it again... I would love to see a full review down the road that caters to hardcore PC users.
    I feel if you go for a Mac, and I feel you should give it a try, running Windows should be secondary. There is no point getting a Mac to run Windows primarily.

    I've not used a Mac for 15 years now since the last MacBook Pro I purchased. And after giving the MacBook Air M1 a try, I rarely miss my tablet or Windows computer. Only time I struggle is when I use it for work running a virtualised Windows system on it and I can't get some of the usual Windows/ Microsoft Office shortcut keys to work on the Mac keyboard. :oops:

    The fast SOC aside, the other factor that makes the M1 based systems fast is because of the tight software integration with the hardware. But when you start using Windows which is very fragmented, I feel you will lose a lot of performance due to inefficiency/ poor optimisation. That is why I feel that ARM chips on Windows will take a long time to become attractive even with Qualcomm doubling down on making a good SOC to compete with Intel on Windows. Even if the hardware is fast, the poorly optimised software/emulation will weigh down on performance.
    Reply
  • CerianK
    watzupken said:
    There is no point getting a Mac to run Windows primarily.
    The opposite of getting a Windows PC to occasionally run Mac apps would be ideal, but is not an option.
    Currently, I occasionally use iOS (on an iPad) to remote in to some of my Windows PCs, which is only vaguely useful.
    Reply