Apple will not support Boot Camp on its new ARM-based Macs

26 Jun 2020

Image: © mahod84/

Apple has confirmed that Boot Camp, which lets users switch between MacOS and Windows, will not be available on its new ARM-based computers.

In 2006, Apple released the Boot Camp Assistant, a multi-boot utility that enables users to install Microsoft Windows operating systems on Intel-based Mac computers.

Mac users have since been using Boot Camp to improve their computers’ gaming capabilities, install software that isn’t compatible with MacOS and to develop stable cross-platform apps.

Now, as Apple transitions from Intel processors to its own ARM-based Mac chips, it has emerged that users will no longer be able to use Boot Camp to install Windows on their Mac devices.

The end of Boot Camp

Rumours of the introduction of Apple’s own ARM processors had been floating around for some time but details were officially confirmed at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this week, with the company stating that it will ship the first mac with Apple silicon by the end of the year.

Apple said it will continue to support and release new versions of MacOS for Intel-based Macs “for years to come”.

At WWDC on Monday (22 June), Apple CEO Tim Cook commented: “From the beginning, the Mac has always embraced big changes to stay at the forefront of personal computing. Today we’re announcing our transition to Apple silicon, making this a historic day for the Mac. With its powerful features and industry-leading performance, Apple silicon will make the Mac stronger and more capable than ever.”

Before the week was out, new questions about the ARM-based Macs were brought up. The Verge reported that the transition could cause problems for Boot Camp users, as Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to PC makers to preinstall on new hardware.

A spokesperson from Microsoft told the publication: “Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs.” When asked if Microsoft would change its policy to enable ARM-based Mac users to install Windows, the company said: “We have nothing further to share at this time.”

The Verge noted that Apple has been working closely with Microsoft to ensure that Office is compatible with and ready for ARM-based Macs, but Apple did not mention the end of Boot Camp at WWDC.

Other ways to run Windows on ARM-based Macs

Speaking on the Daring Fireball podcast later in the week, Apple’s senior vice-president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, confirmed that the company is not planning to support Boot Camp on its ARM-based machines, stating that virtualisation is the way forward.

“We’re not direct booting an alternate operating system,” he said. “Purely virtualisation is the route. These hypervisors can be very efficient, so the need to direct boot shouldn’t really be the concern.”

The Verge suggested that Windows can be run on Mac through virtualisation apps such as VMWare or Parallels, but noted that these apps won’t be supported by Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation technology and that the apps will need to be “fully rebuilt” for ARM-based Macs.

Even with apps rebuilt, the publication said it’s not clear “if that’s even a workable solution” due to licensing complexities.

While this might be frustrating for people intent on running Windows on their Macs, Apple’s new technology will allow users to run Linux.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic