In this hands-on video and step-by-step written walkthrough, I show you how to install Windows 11 via VMware Fusion on a Mac with Apple Silicon. With this tutorial, you’ll be able to run VMware Fusion on an M1 MacBook or M2 MacBook, or any other Mac that uses Apple Silicon, including the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, or Mac Studio.
Interestingly enough, the VMware Fusion Technical Preview also works on Intel Macs, but you’ll of course need to download the x86_64 version of Windows in order to do that. For this tutorial, however, it’s all about running Windows 11 on Apple Silicon, and that’s exactly what this hands-on guide will show you how to do. Without any further ado, let’s get started.
Important: Please keep in mind that this is a tech preview, and as such, there will undoubtedly be bugs. Additional caveats include no 3D hardware acceleration support, and no shared folders/drag and drop between host and guest. Unity mode is also unsupported, and auto-fit guest resolution and auto-scaling is not supported either. Of course, these items could change in the future as development progresses.
Table of contents
Download the Windows 11 Client ARM64 Insider Preview
In order to download the Windows 11 Client ARM64 Insider Preview, you’ll first need a Microsoft Account that’s a member of the Windows Insider program. You can register a Microsoft account for free and sign up for the Windows Insider program for free as well.
Step 1: Visit Microsoft’s Windows Insider registration page and click Sign in now.
Step 2: If you already have a Microsoft account, sign in with your account. If you do not yet have a Microsoft account, click Create one and create a new account.
Step 3: Click the Register tab and click the Register now button.
Step 4: Click the checkbox next to I accept the terms of this agreement and click Register now.
Step 5: Visit the Windows 11 on ARM Insider Preview page and select the Windows 11 Client from the drop down box. I recommend selecting the build from the Beta Channel. Click Confirm.
Step 6: Select the product language from the drop down box and click Confirm.
Step 7: Click the Download Now button to initiate the Windows 11 Client ARM64 Insider Preview download. (Click Allow if you see a Safari pop-up to allow downloads).
Depending on your Internet connection, the Windows 11 ARM64 preview could take some time to download, as it’s around 10GB in size. Windows11_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64.VHDX.
The VHDX extension stands for Virtual Hard Disk v2. VHDX is a disk image format that’s capable of storing the contents of a hard disk drive. VMware Fusion cannot natively read VHDX files so it will need to be converted to a Virtual Machine Disk, or VMDK. The good news is that converting a VHDX to VMDK can be done easily (and for free) using QEMU.
Thus, the next step is to install Homebrew on your Mac, which will then allow you to easily install QEMU.
If you’ve already installed Homebrew on your Mac, you can skip this step.
Step 1: Open Terminal.
Step 2: Paste the following command in Terminal and press Return on your keyboard:
/bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"
Whenever prompted, press Return on your keyboard. You will also be prompted to enter your administrator password. Once you do, press Return on your keyboard.
Step 3: Enter the following commands to add Homebrew to your PATH:
echo 'eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"' >> /Users/jeff/.zprofile eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"
Install QEMU using Homebrew
Open Terminal and type/paste the following command and press the Return key.
brew install qemu
The QEMU installation may take a while depending on the speed of your Internet connection.
Convert Windows 11 VHDX to VMDK
Now we’ll use QEMU to convert the Windows 11 VHDX container to a VMDK container.
Open Terminal and type/paste the following (make sure ‘vmdk’ is in lower case):
qemu-img convert -O vmdk
Ensure that a single space is inserted after vmdk, and drag the Windows 11 VHDX container from the Downloads folder into the Terminal. The result should look similar to the following, but obviously your user name will most likely be different:
qemu-img convert -O vmdk /Users/jeff/Downloads/Windows11_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64_en-us_22598.VHDX
Ensure that a single space is inserted after VHDX, and type/paste the following:
The final command should look similar to the following:
qemu-img convert -O vmdk /Users/jeff/Downloads/Windows11_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64_en-us_22598.VHDX ~/Desktop/Windows11.vmdk
Press Return on your Keyboard. Once you do, you may see a pop-up stating that “VMware Fusion Tech Preview” would like to access files in your Desktop folder. Click OK to allow access.
QEMU will begin converting the VHDK container to VMDK, creating a separate file. The new file will be roughly the same size as the original VHDK, so you’ll want to ensure that you have enough space on your Mac to accommodate it. Conversion will take a few minutes. Once completed, you should see a new Windows11.vmdk file on your desktop.
Download and Install VMware Fusion Technology Preview
Before downloading the VMware Fusion Technology Preview, you’ll need to login with a VMware Customer Connect account.
Step 1: Visit VMware Customer Connect and click Login in the upper right-hand corner. If you do not have a VMware account yet, click Register in the upper right-hand corner to register.
Step 2: Once logged in, visit the product downloads area to download the latest VMware Fusion Technology Preview. If the download doesn’t start automatically, click the Download Now button next to the universal.dmg file. (Click Allow if you see a Safari pop-up requesting to allow downloads).
Step 3: Double click the VMware-Fusion.dmg to mount the image, then double-click the VMware Fusion Tech Preview icon.
Step 4: Click the Open button on the pop-up that appears, enter your macOS administrator password, and click OK.
Step 5: Click Agree on the VMware Technology Preview License Agreement.
Step 6: On the license key screen, the license key for VMware Fusion Preview should already be populated with a valid license. Click Continue and then click Done to complete the installation.
Step 7: Click OK on the VMware Fusion Tech Preview System Events permission pop-up.
Step 8: Click Not Now on the Accessibility pop-up. You can always change this later via Security & Privacy Preferences if you desire.
Once the install and configuration is completed, you will be presented with the Select the Installation Method window. If you don’t see this window, you can always open it by clicking File → Open in the menu bar.
Install Windows 11 ARM Preview with VMware Fusion
Step 1: On the Installation Method window click Create a custom virtual machine and click Continue.
Step 2: Under Choose Operating System select Microsoft Windows > Windows 11 64-bit Arm and click Continue.
Step 3: Keep UEFI selected on the Firmware Type window and click Continue.
Step 4: On the Encryption Window, keep the default option — Only the files needed to support a TPM are encrypted — and click Auto Generate Password. Ensure that Remember Password and store it in Mac’s Keychain is selected and click Continue.
??? More details on TPM and writing down password ??
Step 5: On the Choose a Virtual Disk window, click the radio button next to Use an existing virtual disk and then click Choose virtual disk…
Navigate the pop-up Finder window to the desktop and select the Windows11.vmdk file created in the prior steps.
You may choose the default option Make a separate copy of the virtual disk. This will copy the contents of the Windows11.vmdk container to a new location in ~/Virtual Machines.
This option will take up more space, but will allow other virtual machines to use the original virtual hard disk. If you only plan on using a single virtual instance and wish to save space, you can select Share this virtual disk with the virtual machine that created it.
Personally, I usually stick to the default option, but the choice is yours. Once you’ve selected the desired option, click Choose, followed by Continue.
Step 6: On the Finish window, you’ll have the opportunity to customize settings. Click the Customize Settings button if you wish to configure how much memory is allocated to the virtual machine along with the number of CPU cores, etc. If you’re fine with the default settings presented, click Finish.
Whether or not you click Customize Settings or Continue, you’ll next be prompted to save the virtual machine to your Mac. The default location is ~/Virtual Machines and I recommend keeping the default setting. Click Save to confirm.
If you opted to make a separate copy of the virtual disk, VMware will copy the virtual hard disk to the new location, and then automatically boot into Windows setup.
If you see a permission dialogue requesting Screen Recording access, you may click Deny. You can always provide permissions later via the Security & Privacy section of System Preferences if needed.
Because the necessary VMXNet3 virtual network driver isn’t included with Windows Home or Pro for Windows on ARM, you’ll need to bypass the network enrollment during Windows setup.
Step 1: On your Mac’s keyboard, press Shift+F10. If you have your keyboard set up as default, and you’re using a MacBook or Magic Keyboard, you’ll need to press Fn+Shift+F10 instead. This will invoke the Windows Command Prompt.
Step 2: Enter the following on the Command Prompt:
Press Return on your keyboard. This command lets you bypass network enrollment, but first it will restart Windows Setup.
Step 3: Select your country/region and click Yes.
Step 4: Choose your desired input method and click Yes.
Step 5: On the second keyboard layout page, click Skip.
Step 6: On the network page, click I don’t have Internet and click continue with limited setup.
Step 7: Click Accept on the License Agreement page.
Step 8: Enter your name and click Next.
Step 9: Enter a password (optional) and click Next.
Step 10: Disable all of the privacy settings and click Accept.
Windows will continue with the final configuration steps, and eventually the Windows desktop will appear.
Installing VMware Tools
Prior to installing VMware Tools, you will be unable to configure your network connection or adjust display resolution settings. In other words, instilling VMware Tools is a must.
Step 1: Click the Windows Start menu and type PowerShell in the search box. Click Run as Administrator, and click Yes on the User Access Control prompt. (If you don’t see Run as Administrator, right click on PowerShell and select Run as Administrator).
Step 2: Type the following inside the PowerShell prompt:
Press Return on your keyboard to execute the command, and then type ‘Y’ and press Return to confirm the change to the execution policy. Type Exit and press Return to close the PowerShell.
Step 3: In the menu bar click Virtual Machine → Reinstall VMware Tools and click the Install button on the prompt that appears.
Step 4: Open Windows Explorer, navigate to the DVD drive, and ensure that VMware Tools setup is mounted. You should see a Setup.ps1 PowerShell script in the root of the DVD drive.
Step 5: Right click on the Setup PowerShell Script and click Run with PowerShell. Click Yes on the User Account Control pop-up.
VMware Tools will now install, along with the necessary VMXNet3 network drivers and SVGA display driver. After a short countdown, the PowerShell window will automatically close.
Network functionality should now be operational, and you will also be able to configure display settings via Start → Settings → Display. There should be no need to restart in order to enable this functionality.
Although this tutorial may seem like a lot of steps, it’s a fairly easy procedure to navigate through once you have the needed Windows 11 image and the VMware Fusion Technical Preview downloaded.
For general computing with apps with no Mac alternative, VMware Fusion Technical Preview has been a solid experience so far, and will only get better.
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