Bad news for Mac owners who like to run Windows: Apple’s upcoming ARM-based Macs won’t support Boot Camp, the free utility that lets you install and run Windows 10 on the machines.
The switch from Intel silicon to ARM means the new Macs won’t be able to run Windows 10 natively, according to Apple SVP Craig Federighi.
“Actually direct booting —of course, we couldn’t direct boot those machines to an x86 version of Windows, which is what today’s Boot Camp does. But we’re not direct booting an alternate operating system,” he said in an interview with the Daring Fireball blog.
The statement will disappoint Mac users who have used Boot Camp to switch between macOS and Windows on a single system since 2006, such as gamers and developers. Still, Apple says owners of the ARM-based Macs will be able to run alternate operating systems, but it’ll have to occur via virtualization. This option involves installing third-party software to let you run Windows inside the macOS desktop without needing to reboot.
On the downside, since you’re running two operating systems at once, the virtualization consumes more CPU and RAM, potentially slowing down your computer. However, Federighi expects the virtualization over the new ARM-powered Macs to be fast. “These hypervisors can be very efficient, so the need to direct boot shouldn’t really be the concern,” he said.
One company, Parallels, is already working on bringing its virtualization software to the new ARM-powered Macs so customers can run any operating system needed. At WWDC, Apple briefly showed off Parallels’ software running on an ARM-based Mac to load Linux.
However, Federighi noted that virtualization on the new Macs can only run the ARM version of Linux, not the x86 version.
There’s also another way Windows could arrive on the news Macs: Microsoft has an ARM-based version of Windows 10, which it’s used in Surface devices. But according to The Verge, Microsoft doesn’t openly sell the OS to consumers. Instead, the company licenses it out to PC manufacturers, which can then pre-install it on their devices.
Whether Microsoft or Apple is interested in bringing the OS to the new Macs is unclear. But the ARM-based version of Windows 10 has its own compatibility problems as our past reviews have found.
Apple is ditching Intel for custom ARM processors to boost the performance and power efficiency in both MacBook and Mac desktop systems. Although the company is remaining mum on the exact chip specs, the silicon will be built using processor technology found in Apple’s iPhone and iPads.
As a result, the news Macs will be able to run iOS apps natively for the first time. But it looks like Boot Camp is on its way out. The first ARM-based Mac system is slated to arrive before year’s end, although Apple says some Intel-powered Macs remain in the pipeline.