Windows 11 on Macs with Parallels complicates the requirements story

JC Torres - Jul 1, 2021, 10:26pm CDT
Windows 11 on Macs with Parallels complicates the requirements story

Windows 11’s minimum system requirements have become sort of a mess to the point that Microsoft pulled out its tool for checking PC compatibility. For now, Microsoft seems to be bullish on the TPM 2.0 as a requirement to keep Windows 11 users secure and safe. That said, it does seem that the company is willing to bend the rules to accommodate other markets such as China and Russia. A promise just made by Parallels to eventually bring Windows 11 to Macs could once again raise the question of how essential that TPM security requirement is anyway.

TPM is more or less an industry-standard that Microsoft created to ensure the security of its Windows operating system on compliant PCs. However, it requires specialized hardware for cryptography, and Microsoft will require its presence, specifically version 2.0 of the standard, for Windows 11. That immediately disqualifies PCs with older Intel or AMD processors and custom-built computers without TPM 2.0, and some have questioned whether TPM is that critical to Windows 11 in the first place.

Of course, the standard does increase Windows’ security to some extent, but it isn’t applied or even allowed everywhere. Microsoft’s own documentation notes that Windows 11 won’t require TPM to be enabled in such cases, like special images for markets like China and Russia. Whether TPM hardware is still required to be present regardless remains unanswered.

Things also get a bit unclear on platforms outside of Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, Windows 11’s officially supported processors. This could be a major hurdle for Parallels, makers of the popular Windows virtualization software for macOS. The company just recently committed to bringing Windows 11 to Macs but didn’t give a timeline for it. However, even without the time factor, the technical problems could become a barrier that Parallels won’t be able to overcome.

Parallels does support a virtualized TPM for Windows 10, but that only works on Intel-based Macs. A version for M1 Macs has been promised but, again, without any indication as to when. It might be possible for the developers to create a virtualized TPM 2.0 implementation for the ARM-based M1 Macs, but that might not meet Microsoft’s requirements for Windows 11. If, on the other hand, Microsoft does make an exception for virtualized environments, including VMWare, then TPM might not be that hard a requirement for Windows 11 after all.


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