Why would I want to run Windows 10?

The OS that comes with your MacBook Pro is a wonderful thing - regularly maintained, updated and kept more secure than its Windows counterparts. Add to that the many apps that come with it (and many more are available from third parties), and it's everything that you'll ever need. Or is it?

The world still runs predominantly on the Microsoft OS platform, so it follows that there are many applications that are Windows only - or have increased functionality on Windows - like Office 365, for example. Cheers, Microsoft!

In the world of pro graphics and video, there are hosts of tools that are Windows only, and when it comes to gaming, Windows is - erm - the biggest game in town. You may find yourself needing to collaborate with someone working (or playing) in the Windows environment, so access to the platform would become key.

So can I run Windows 10 on my MacBook Pro?

In a word, yes. Since Apple moved over to Intel processors in 2006, both Apple and Microsoft have essentially spoken the same language, as both use the same x86 instruction set utilised by Intel processors. It was a canny Apple move, as now Windows users could migrate to Macs and bring their software with them using Apple's Boot Camp.

Your MacBook Pro comes pre-installed with Boot Camp, and should you choose to use it, it involves partitioning your hard disk and installing a Windows system on one partition and MacOS on the other. Your machine then becomes a dual boot machine, and you can choose which OS to boot into at start-up.

All good....but you can't use both systems at the same time, so you're excluded from all of your MacOS apps whilst running Windows 10 (and vice versa).

Also - Boot Camp isn't currently a feature of the newest M1 Macs due to the new chip (and therefore different language). I think that we can all be confident, though, that Apple will find a solution to this as it's surely in their interests to do so. Why wouldn't they?

There are, however, alternatives to a dual boot solution:- Virtual Machines (VMs) and emulations.

Virtual what?

A virtualisation programs run natively on your MacOS by creating a Virtual Machine that mimics the hardware of a Windows OS (or indeed MacOS or Linux one) that runs inside your MacOS. You can then install an OS of your choice within that virtual machine - or install several virtual machines if you wish, each housing a different system.

So, no dual boot, which means that you can access Mac and Windows apps at the same time. The only downside to the VM route is that because you're effectively running two systems simultaneously, you'll need enough RAM and CPU in your MacBook Pro - and housing another system(s) will use more HD space too. However, I've found that unless you're trying to launch space rockets on both systems, it works pretty well.

It's worth bearing in mind the options open to M1 chipped new Macbooks out there - solutions will be coming, but as of writing this developers (including Apple) are still playing catch up.

The emulation game

Emulators run Windows programs on MacOS without the need to install a Windows 10 OS. Emulation programs tend to be less user-friendly and are designed for those who aren't averse to tinkering under the hood a bit - so if you're feeling adventurous....

On the upside, Emulation programs tend to be cheap - or even free!

Logical thinking

I would suggest that if you're aiming to game, Boot Camp may be your best go to. Yes, the dual boot thing is a pain, but as you'll only be running one system at a time, so you'll squeeze the maximum performance out of your computer. If you're just wanting to run a few Windows programmes (like Office 365 for instance), then a VM may be just what you're looking for.

There is a another, 'hybrid', alternative in the shape of Windows 365 that may give you the best of both worlds - but at a price, for now. More below.

The following alternatives below are listed in no particular order!


Apple Boot Camp

https://support.apple.com/boot-camp

Pricing – free!

Boot Camp comes pre-installed on your computer, and entails partitioning your drive to run MacOS on one drive and your choice of OS on the other. Boot Camp 6.1 supports Windows 7, 8.1 or 10, but it's worth checking the compatibility tables here to verify that Windows 10 will run on your MacBook Pro (MBP). You'll also need to download a disk image file (ISO) of your desired Windows OS from the Microsoft website.

Boot Camp is dual boot, meaning that you can choose only one OS on your machine at start-up, and cannot run two simultaneously. It does, however, offer the best performance, as it is able to use the full power of your MBP, including your graphics card - an incentive for gamers or those working in power hungry graphics or video apps.

 

Parallels 17

https://www.parallels.com/uk/

Pricing  - £69.99 annual sub (Standard Edition)/ £79.99 annual sub (Pro/Business Edition)

Parallels is one of the 'big beast' Virtual machine (VM) programs. It works seamlessly, looks great, is frequently updated and maintained - and is very easy to use. As with all VMs, you'll need to download a disk image file (ISO) of your desired Windows OS from the Microsoft website (or an old MacOS if you wish).

On the downside, it's not free - we're all piling up our virtual subs for virtual things these days, but these folks gotta make a living....

As with all of these products, check on the current state of play re MacBook Pros with M1 chips!

 

VMWare Fusion 12

https://www.vmware.com


Pricing – Free (personal use)/ £124.99 (commercial)/ £166.66 (pro edition)

VMWare fusion 12 is a virtualisation program similar to Parallels.

VMWare has always been the direct competitor to Parallels, directly competing for the #1 spot in the VM market, but of late it has fallen behind Parallels somewhat. Its last major update was in September 2020 - a sign perhaps that the company's priorities lie elsewhere - or perhaps there's an M1 compliant version of Fusion coming?

Without going into technical differences, this product broadly does what Parallels does. Perhaps not as slick, and in my experience a wee bit slower. However, on the upside, it's free for personal use.

As with all of these products, check on the current state of play re MacBook Pros with M1 chips!

Windows 365

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-365


Pricing – £31.68 - £67.44 per month

Windows 365 was launched in July 2021, and is pitched to challenge the market dominance of the major VM software houses.

Windows 365 is, in some senses, a form of Virtual Machine, but with a difference. It's 'machine' is stored in the cloud, and processing comes directly from Microsoft's servers. The video image for the Windows PC that you're using is then streamed to your Mac, iPad (iPhone eventually?) or even another PC. A neat idea, as it doesn't tie up your MacBook's resources (as long as your internet connection is fast enough).

Windows 365 pricing suggests that it's aimed at larger business users seeking to 'standardise' a PC for their staff to use. The pricing is certainly prohibitive for the small guy (or gal) at the moment, but it's a new concept, and it would be surprising if a single user rate wasn't introduced in the near future.

Also, due to its nature, no problem for M1 chip owners!

VirtualBox

https://www.virtualbox.org/


Pricing – Free (personal/education); £40 per user (Enterprise Edition - minimum 100 users)

This is a virtualisation tool that's really made for corporate applications, but the owners, Oracle, have made this open-source program free for personal use. There are Linux and Windows versions of VirtualBox available, making it one of the most adaptable VM programs, capable of running a wide range of systems - but doesn't work on M1 Macs.

Being open-source, it's nowhere near as slick and easy to use as Parallels or VMWare, and you'll have to be prepared to wade though some hefty jargon and speak some technicalese. You don't get tech support, but there's a useful and lively forum.

And it's free. What do you want? Jam on it?

 

Wine

https://www.winehq.org/


Pricing – free

Wine (as well as being a top drink) is an emulation program that allows you to run Windows apps, so doesn't need a Windows system install. As of version 5, it can run on M1 Macs.

Despite being open-source, Wine is extremely well maintained and gets regular updates, but can be very confusing for the newcomer (me). Be prepared to get down and dirty....but.....it's free!

 

CrossOver 20

https://www.codeweavers.com/


Pricing – £32 (£48 with support)

CrossOver is another emulation program, much like Wine, but easier to use - but still fairly complex to begin with, so you'll have to be prepared to pay some learning time in. It runs on M1 Macs, so along with Wine scores above the two big VM beasts mentioned above (currently). It's fairly cheap, and you get a free 14 day trial.


Virtual Insanity?

I've tried to keep this non-technical (as I'm non-technical), and it really isn't that hard to get a PC up and running on your MacBook Pro. Please heed my repeated compatibility warnings, though;- check that your Mac can run your eventual choice of weapon.


Thinking of buying a MacBook Pro from new? Think different.

Apple are working hard to reduce their carbon footprint, but computer manufacture is notoriously carbon and rare earth heavy - not to mention the sumptuous packaging!

We all have a part to play in maintaining the environment we live in. By buying a refurbished MacBook Pro, we are collectively reducing our carbon footprint and preserving the planet now and for our future generations.