How to Run Windows 11 for Free on an M1 or M2 Mac

For many years, Apple made it easy to run Windows on your Mac. Apple’s Boot Camp allowed you to start up your Intel-based Mac in either macOS or Windows, and this dual-boot capability was great for people who needed to use both operating systems.

Unfortunately, Apple only supports Boot Camp on Macs with an Intel processor. Since Apple has been updating its Macs to run on its own Apple silicon (i.e. M1 and M2) processors, few Macs are still available that let you dual-boot Windows or run Windows apps natively with an Intel processor. For now, Apple still sells one model of Mac mini with an Intel processor, as well as the more expensive Mac Pro which is out of most consumers’ price range.

But for those who want to move forward with Apple silicon, there’s another option: virtualization. Of the two popular apps that have been used for years to run Windows and other operating systems on a Mac, namely VMware Fusion and Parallels Desktop, only the latter has been updated to run on an M1 or M2-based Mac. Parallels Desktop’s pricing can range anywhere from about $50 (for upgrades from a previous version) to $100 for the Pro Edition, unless you happen to buy it when it’s on sale.

There’s another solution, which is QEMU: a free, open-source emulator that (at least in its standard package) is somewhat difficult to install and set up. You can bypass much of the initial setup complexity by using the UTM app, which allows you to run QEMU on your Mac with very little setup. UTM is not as feature-rich as Parallels Desktop, but UTM is free (more accurately, payment is optional).

In this article, I’ll explain how you can run Windows on an M1 Mac (or any Mac with an M1 Pro, M1 Max, or M2 chip) with UTM, for free—including a free version of Windows 11 Pro.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

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