The latest generation of Apple Silicon Macs are mighty and fast, but they can’t natively run Windows. Fortunately, there’s a workaround — and it’s free. It requires using the free VMware Fusion Player and Windows 11’s official ARM copy. Once installed, you’ll have a Windows 11 instance running inside an app on your Mac. It’ll be the real Windows 11, so you can run all your favourite apps. The only thing you can’t do is game, but you can blame Direct X for that.
Download the Windows 11 for ARM ISO from Parallels Desktop for Mac
Parallels Desktop is hands down the best way to run Windows on your Mac. Unlike VMware Fusion Player, it even supports Direct X, so you can run Windows games on your Mac too. But it costs $US79 for personal use, and we’re looking to run Windows on macOS for free.
To start, download and run the free trial for Parallels Desktop for Mac and go through the setup wizard. Follow it along until you see the Download and Install Windows 11 menu. Here, click the Install Windows button. Once the download is complete, you can quit the app. Then go to your Downloads folder to find the Windows 11 ISO file.
Install Windows 11 for ARM with VMware Fusion Player
VMware is an industry standard when it comes to emulation apps, and they have a free personal use licence for their Fusion Player product. To get started, first register for a Personal Use Licence using your VMware account.
Once that’s done, go to Licence > Downloads > Manually Download. Then, open the downloaded DMG file and double-click the VMware Fusion icon to start the installation. Confirm your actions and accept the agreement.
Enter the Licence key you generated above, click Continue, and then click Done.
In the next screen, drag the Windows 11 for ARM ISO file to the screen, and click Continue to start the installation. Once done, you’ll see the Virtual Machine window. Here, click the Play button to start the Windows 11 setup. You can choose the “I don’t have a product key” option to skip the process. You can choose the Windows 11 Home option if you intend to buy a key later (as it’s a cheaper option). Then keep hitting Next until the installation is complete.
Make Windows 11 for ARM up and running on your Mac
By default, the Windows 11 for RM doesn’t include necessary virtual network drivers, so we’ll need to bypass network enrollment to get through the Windows setup. You can do this using the PowerShell and some quick commands.
When you’re on the “Is this the right country or region?” screen, press Shift+F10 (try Fn+Shift+F10 if it doesn’t work). In the command prompt enter the following:
Windows will reboot and restart the whole setup process. Select your country and keyboard layout, and click Yes. You can skip the second keyboard layout page.
When you get to the network page, click the I don’t have internet button at the bottom and choose the Continue with limited setup option. Continue with the flow and accept the privacy settings.
Once Windows reboots, go to Start Menu > PowerShell, right-click, and choose Run as administrator. Click Yes to confirm, and in the PowerShell app, enter:
Press “A” to indicate that you want to change the execution policy for all steps. Press the Return key and close the PowerShell app.
In the Mac menu, click Virtual Machine > Install VMware Tools. From the popup, click the Install button to mount the virtual DVD drive. Then, open the Windows Explorer app and choose the mounted DVD. Find the PowerShell script called “Setup”, right-click, choose Run with PowerShell, and click Yes to confirm.
This will finally open the VMware Tools for installing the driver package. Once that’s done, you should have full network access. You can now head to Start > Settings > Windows Update > Check for updates to download the latest updates. You’re now, as they say, in business.
If you want to see the whole installation guide, check out this helpful video from 9to5Mac.