Qualcomm’s Exclusivity Deal with Microsoft Could be the Reason Why There’s No Windows for Apple Silicon Macs

BY Anu Joy

Published 23 Nov 2021

According to a report by XDA Developers, Qualcomm and Microsoft might have an exclusivity deal that restricts Windows to Qualcomm ARM chips. However, that is set to expire soon. This could also be the reason why the new Apple Silicon-powered Macs do not officially support Windows. That could change in the future.

Currently, you can switch between macOS and Windows on your older Intel-based Macs with Bootcamp. However, Apple Silicon Macs do not support the utility. Last year, Apple’s SVP Craig Federighi said it is “really up to Microsoft” to bring Windows to Apple Silicon Macs. Just a few months back, a Microsoft executive confirmed to The Register that the company won’t support running Windows 11 natively or through virtualization on Apple Silicon Macs. That leaves only one way to run Windows, and that’s with Parallels Desktop. Unfortunately, the new software is fraught with bugs.

However, it isn’t known exactly when the alleged exclusivity deal between Qualcomm and Microsoft is set to expire. But when the exclusivity agreement does run its course, Windows could be ported to non-Qualcomm implementations of the ARM architecture, such as MediaTek’s offerings for example. It may even allow Microsoft to sell an ARM version of Windows for Apple Silicon Macs.

On the other hand, there is a possibility that Qualcomm and Microsoft may renew their deal. This would throw a wrench in the works for other chip makers. The thought cannot be dismissed entirely, in the light of Qualcomm announcing its own plans for an Apple Silicon competitor by 2023.

Microsoft had announced Windows on ARM way back in 2016. Besides Qualcomm, no other chip manufacturer has released chipsets for ARM-based Windows. But with the exclusivity deal that is set to expire soon, other chipset manufacturers are eyeing the space and planning to move from x86 to ARM chips.

Apple’s impressive lineup of its M-series chips seems to have inspired other companies to make their own ARM chipsets. Its rival Microsoft is working on making its ARM-based chipsets in-house, perhaps in a bid to boot Qualcomm off the partnership. Furthermore, even MediaTek expressed interest in manufacturing ARM chips for Windows computers. In turn, the ARMs race would eventually benefit the consumer, with more competition leading to better options and lower prices.

Are you excited about the possibility of running Windows on your M1 Mac? Let us know in the comments.

[Via XDA Developers]