There are many options available to those who want to run Windows programs on a Mac or MacBook. In this article, we have compiled the best virtual machines for Mac that will allow you to install Microsoft’s operating system on your Apple computer.
Although Apple often insists that its users use software created by them, the truth is that the company seems to have finally recognized that Microsoft does something better in terms of programs and applications designed for the corporate world.
This is the case, for example, of the Microsoft Office Access database, which can only be enjoyed on macOS if Windows is installed first. It also happens with some video games that, unfortunately, are only available on PC.
Can Windows run on a Mac?
When Apple started using Intel processors in 2006-2007, the company also brought Windows to the Mac because suddenly macOS and Windows OS started speaking the same language.
This worked to Apple’s advantage because it addressed one of the big concerns Windows users had when considering moving to the Mac: It meant they could take Windows and their software.
However, this is now going to change. In 2020, Apple announced that it would replace Intel with its own processors. That transition began with the arrival of the M1 chip in November of that year and continued in April with the introduction of the first iPad with M1.
That has led some to predict that having Windows on Mac is over, although the truth is that this does not seem to be the case. Parallels has already announced a version to run the ARM version of Windows on a Mac running M1.
But getting the ARM version of Windows is not that easy, and the apps you use may not work well with this version. That’s why we wouldn’t recommend using Windows on a Mac with M1 at the moment.
So, for now we will focus on the possibilities of running Windows on an Intel-based Mac. It is possible to use Windows on Intel-based Macs, and you have several options at your disposal.
What is the best way to run Windows on Mac?
Luckily, there are several options available to run Windows and Windows apps on a Mac. Before listing them, we’ll explain the three methods of running Windows on a Mac.
The solution offered by Apple for these compatibility problems with certain programs is Boot Camp, which you can use through the ‘Boot Camp Assistant’ app, which you can access from the ‘Utilities’ folder inside the ‘Applications’ folder.
This wizard reserves a portion of your Mac’s internal hard drive so you can install Windows inside macOS. When you turn on your Mac, it’s as easy as choosing which operating system you want it to start with.
It is the best solution to run video games or demanding Windows applications, since Boot Camp allows you to use the operating system with all the power and memory included in your Apple computer.
Of course, Boot Camp also has some drawbacks and it seems that it could be finished now that Apple has announced that this tool will not work on Macs with Apple chips.
The programs on this list allow you to create a virtual machine on your Mac in which you can first install Windows and then download those applications that you want compatible with this operating system.
Alternatively, there is another option called “virtualization”, which allows you to run Windows and Windows applications from macOS directly. That means you can run both operating systems at the same time.
Therefore, with virtualization you have the option of using apps for macOS and apps for Windows at the same time, something that can be more comfortable than Boot Camp, since you will not have to change the operating system every time.
We recommend using this technique when you want to run productivity and business programs, that is, applications that do not need much power. It is the case of the suite room of Microsoft Office and other database and word processing apps.
The third option is the one offered by Wine, with which you can run Windows apps without having to use Windows. Yes, it is possible, and all you have to do is download this free source program created by Oracle.
Instead of using conventional virtualization technology to run Windows, you won’t have to run it at all. Instead, Wine translates the programming (APIs) of Windows apps so that they can communicate with macOS without the need for Windows.
Wine is not the only option. CodeWeavers CrossOver for Mac is based precisely on Wine and can already run Windows apps on Macs with the M1 chip.
While both Boot Camp and virtualization require a Windows license, one of the great advantages of Wine and CrossOver is that you won’t.
Comparison: What is the best virtual machine for Mac?
Parallels always schedules its Parallels Desktop updates to coincide with the macOS update. This year, a new version of Windows has also arrived, so Parallels Desktop 17 has to offer compatibility with both macOS Monterey and Windows 11.
Windows 11 has very demanding system requirements, such as having the TPM 2.0 security chip. Parallels 17 includes a virtual TPM chip that will work with Windows 11 and its BitLocker encryption features.
It also comes with a new driver that improves 2D graphics performance, bringing smoother graphics to the Windows interface. It also improves performance when playing video games.
But there are certain limitations with the new M1 Macs. You will only be able to use Parallels on a Mac running M1 with Monterey or Big Sur installed. Instead, you will be able to copy text and graphics from Windows applications into Monterey’s new sticky notes.
Learn more: Review Parallels Desktop 17 for Mac
Fusion hasn’t always kept up with the regular updates of Parallels Desktop, but VMware Fusion 12 has narrowed those differences and also offers a free version for home use.
Fusion uses the same virtualization method as Parallels Desktop and allows you to create a “virtual machine” (VM) that uses software to simulate the hardware of a conventional Windows PC.
You can run that virtual machine in a window or full screen if you prefer. Among the new features of VMware Fusion 12 is support for DirectX 11 and eGPUs. Now, VMware Fusion Player 12 is also available.
As for the interface, it has never been as polished and fast as Parallels Desktop, but with version 11 changes were added that made it easier to use.
More information: Review Fusion 12
CodeWeavers CrossOver for Mac is based on Wine, but it’s a bit easier to use than this other emulator. Of course, it is not free, but it has a price of about 40 dollars.
CrossOver 20 arrived in November 2020 and has already brought Windows apps to Macs running M1. Emulation happens through Rosetta 2 on the Mac, so you don’t have to install Windows.
To tell the truth, CrossOver is a bit tricky to use at first, which is why we recommend using the 14-day free trial to see if it’s really what you need.
Four. Apple Bootcamp
Unlike software of virtualization that we included in this article, Boot Camp does not allow you to use apps for Windows and macOS at the same time. With this tool installed, you will be able to run one or the other operating system separately, never at the same time.
Running Boot Camp Assistant will create two partitions on your Mac’s hard drive or solid-state drive. These partitions can vary in size, but keep in mind that one will be for macOS and the other for Windows. .
This is the best option to fully enjoy Windows using all the power your Mac has to offer, especially if you want to run very demanding programs and 3D video games.
As stated at the beginning, Boot Camp version 6.1 can only be used to install Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10. Now, not all Macs will work well with these three versions, so you’ll need to make sure compatibility first.
VirtualBox is an open virtualization program available from Oracle that is more intended for a corporate environment than for personal use. Of course, it is only free if it is used in a private or educational context.
East software allows you to create a virtual machine that will allow you to use Windows and Windows apps within macOS itself. Linux and windows versions are also available, so you can convert these into virtual machines as well.
The great disadvantage of software open source of this type is that it is not as refined or sophisticated as others on this list such as Parallels or Fusion. Version 6.1 was a big update, but it still uses very technical language.
Also, since it is a free program, you will not have technical support at your fingertips. You should use the forum and consult your doubts with other users. VirtualBox is designed for companies that have their own IT department.
In addition to virtual machines and virtualization, you have another option to be able to use Windows on a Mac. Wine It will allow you to use Windows apps without having to install the Microsoft operating system on your Apple computer.
It is an open program that you can download for free. To work, Wine will translate the APIs – the application programming interfaces – so that Windows apps can directly target macOS without intermediation from Windows.
Plus, you won’t need extra memory or power, so you may find that your Mac performs better using Wine and not a virtual machine. The big but is that it can be a bit confusing for beginners.
CrossOver is an alternative option that is somewhat easier to use – although a bit complicated at first – that you can try for 14 days for free to see if it offers enough compatibility with the Windows programs and games that you want to use.
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