Parallels Desktop 16.5 is now available on the Mac, offering native M1 support. That said, you still can’t run normal Windows 10 in a VM. Instead, you’re stuck with an unsupported preview version of Windows 10 on ARM via the Windows Insider Program.
“Apple’s M1 chip is a significant breakthrough for Mac users,” Parallels senior vice president Nick Dobrovolskiy says. “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.”
Improvements for M1-based Macs in this release include:
- Improvements in Parallels Desktop 16.5 on M1-based Macs include:
- Parallels Desktop 16.5 uses 2.5 times less energy than on a 2020 Intel-based MacBook Air computer.
- Parallels Desktop 16.5 running on an M1 Mac delivers up to 60 percent better DirectX 11performance than on an Intel-based MacBook Pro with Radeon Pro 555X GPU.
- Running a virtual machine (VM) of Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview on Parallels Desktop 16.5 on an M1 Mac performs up to 30 percent better than a Windows 10 VM running on Intel-based MacBook Pro with Intel Core i9 processor.
The sticking point, here, of course, is Windows. If you’re using Parallels Desktop on a new M1-based Mac, you still cannot virtualize mainstream Windows 10 versions. Instead, you must install a non-supported and time-limited copy of Windows 10 on ARM Preview via the Windows Insider program and then keep it up-to-date.
Or, as Parallels notes, “Running VMs on Apple M1 Mac computers in Parallels Desktop 16.5 requires ARM-based operating systems (OSs). Customers who install guest operating systems in Parallels Desktop virtual machines are responsible for making sure that they are compliant with each OSs’ end-user licensing agreement (EULA).”