M1 Mac users now have a new way to virtualize Windows on their machines. Parallels has officially released Parallels Desktop 16.5 today with native support for Apple Silicon, enabling users to run the Windows 10 ARM Insider Preview on M1 Macs.

Parallels says that over 100,000 M1 Mac users tested the Technical Preview of Parallels Desktop 16.5 using Microsoft’s Windows 10 on ARM Insider Previews. These beta testers also tested “tens of thousands of different Intel-based applications” in virtualization.

Parallels VP of engineering and support, Nick Dobrovolskiy, said:

“We received enthusiastic feedback about the remarkable performance of both the Technical Preview of Parallels Desktop 16 for M1 Mac and Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview as well as x86 applications and games, including Rocket League, Among Us, Roblox, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Sam & Max Save the World and many others. Testers loved Parallels Desktop’s easy-to-use features and seamless integration of Windows with macOS Big Sur, which increased productivity,” said Dobrovolskiy.

Parallels is touting some pretty significant performance and efficiency benefits on M1 Macs as well. Most notably, you can expect a 30% boost in performance compared to running a Windows 10 VM on an Intel Core i9 processor.

  • Up to 250 percent less energy used: On a Mac with an Apple M1 chip, Parallels Desktop 16.5 uses 2.5 times less  energy  than on a 2020  Intel-based MacBook Air computer. 
  • Up to 60 percent better DirectX 11 performance: 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. 
  • Up to 30 percent  better virtual machine performance (Windows): 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.

What’s important to keep in mind here is that Microsoft does not sell an ARM version of Windows at retail yet. Instead, you have to use the Windows 10 ARM Insider preview, which you can get from Microsoft’s website. In the Windows 10 ARM Insider preview, you can then emulate Intel applications as well.

You can download Parallels 16.5 starting today from the Parallels website.

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