The Best Way to Run Windows on macOS

If you’re a new macOS user, especially with the latest Macbook Pro 2021 M1 Pro, you may have encountered a common challenge faced by many – the need to run Windows programs. As an engineering student, you rely on specific software that may not be available for macOS. So, what’s the best way to run Windows on your Mac without compromising its performance or the Apple ecosystem you’ve come to love?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various options for running Windows on your Mac and help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Your Options

Before diving into specific solutions, let’s take a moment to understand the available choices:

1. Parallels Desktop

Parallels Desktop is a popular virtualization software that allows you to run Windows alongside macOS. It’s known for its seamless integration and performance on Macs. However, there are some considerations:

  • Compatibility: Parallels Desktop works well with the latest M1 Pro chip, ensuring a smooth Windows experience.
  • Cost: It’s important to note that Parallels Desktop comes with a price tag, which might be a factor to consider as a student.
  • Subscription vs. One-time Purchase: Parallels offers both subscription and one-time purchase options. Subscriptions include software updates, while one-time purchases do not.

2. UTM (Universal Type-C Multiplexer)

UTM is a free and open-source virtualization solution for running Windows on your Mac. It’s gaining popularity for its compatibility with ARM-based chips like the M1 and M2. Some key points to consider:

  • Cost: UTM is free to use, making it an attractive option for students on a budget.
  • Performance: While it offers good performance, UTM may not be as feature-rich as Parallels Desktop.

3. Crossover, PlayOnMac, and Porting Kit

These tools rely on Wine, a compatibility layer for running Windows software on macOS. They are paid solutions, with Crossover being the most popular. Here are some insights:

  • Compatibility: These tools can run some Windows applications, but not all, and may require some technical expertise to set up.
  • Cost: They are paid options, so consider your budget when choosing one of these alternatives.

4. Native Boot Camp

Boot Camp is a built-in macOS utility that allows you to create a separate partition on your Mac’s hard drive to install Windows natively. This means you can boot your Mac into either macOS or Windows. Key points to consider:

  • Performance: Native Boot Camp often provides the best performance as it runs Windows directly on your hardware.
  • Dual-Boot: You’ll need to restart your Mac to switch between macOS and Windows, which can be less convenient than virtualization options.

Making the Right Choice

Now that you’re familiar with the options, let’s help you make the right choice:

1. If Performance is Critical:

If you need maximum performance and don’t mind rebooting to switch between operating systems, Native Boot Camp is your best bet.

2. If You Prefer Virtualization:

  • For a balance between performance and convenience, consider Parallels Desktop. Look for student discounts to save on costs.
  • If you’re on a tight budget and need compatibility with M1 or M2 chips, UTM is a great free option.

3. If You Have Specific Windows Applications:

If you only need to run specific Windows applications and don’t want to invest in virtualization software, try Crossover, PlayOnMac, or Porting Kit.

Important Considerations

Regardless of the option you choose, keep these considerations in mind:

  • Storage: Running Windows on your Mac will consume additional storage space. Ensure you have enough disk space available.
  • Licensing: You’ll need a valid Windows license for any of these solutions.
  • Updates: Regularly update your virtualization software or Windows for security and compatibility.
  • Backup: Always back up your data before making significant changes to your system.

Final Thoughts

Running Windows on your Mac is possible, and the best approach depends on your specific needs and preferences. Whether you opt for virtualization with Parallels Desktop or UTM, or go for native booting with Boot Camp, you can maintain a productive and versatile computing experience on your Macbook Pro 2021 M1 Pro.

Remember to consider factors like cost, performance, and compatibility with your desired Windows applications before making your decision. With the right setup, you can have the best of both macOS and Windows worlds on your Mac.