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I want to run Windows on ARM via the Parallels tech preview on my MacBook Air M1.

If I buy an OEM license for Windows 10 (home or professional?) will I be able to activate the Windows Insider programme to access the Windows ARM builds?

I have an M1 Mac, an older Intel Mac, and no PC.

(The purpose of the purchase is to play Elite Dangerous on the M1 Mac)

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    Windows on ARM is coming to the Mac M1 on Parallels - the licensing isn't yet figured out, as neither it nor Parallels are yet in release. Best people to ask about this would be Microsoft or Parallels, see how it's currently working. Many of the comments here are referring to embedded builds, not this new version. There are reams of discussion on it here - forum.parallels.com/forums/… – Tetsujin Jan 8 at 19:06
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    Parallels have never been any part in OS licensing. It's entirely up to the user to ensure their license is valid. They enable installer downloading, but not licensing. – Tetsujin Jan 8 at 19:14
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It isn’t clear what MS licensing intentions for ARM are but to answer your question, you don’t need any Windows license to join the insider program - you just need to register a free MS account.

You can then download the vhdx image from windowsinsiderpreviewARM64 (just tested using freshly created MS account on my iPad) and the Program Agreement on that page doesn’t mention any license requirements.

As an aside however, after you register as an insider you’ll see on the flights tab (which seems aimed at x86 versions):

To install Windows 10 Insider Preview Builds, you must be running a licensed version of Windows 10 on your device.

This clearly doesn’t apply to M1 (as you can’t) but buying a random license wouldn’t help fulfil this condition as you wouldn’t be running it ‘on your device’.

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  • As for licensing the vm see here : forum.parallels.com/threads/… – lx07 Jan 8 at 22:21
  • @ix07 - Those users reported activation issues with x86 Windows licenses – Ramhound Jan 9 at 14:13
  • This was very helpful and I now have it working! Many thanks! – tomh Jan 10 at 15:22
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Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to PC makers to preinstall on new hardware, and the company hasn’t made copies of the operating system available for anyone to license or freely install.

“Microsoft only licenses Windows 10 on ARM to OEMs,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. We asked Microsoft if it plans to change this policy to allow Windows 10 on ARM-based Macs, and the company says “we have nothing further to share at this time.”

The Verge

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  • Please see the linked Reddit page for how that poster did it. If you are part of the Windows Insider beta testing program, you do have access to Arm builds, but you (possibly?) need an active running version of windows to access them, I think? – tomh Jan 8 at 18:09
  • Microsoft is offering a version of Arm-based Windows that's available through the Windows Insider program that will run on ‌M1‌ Macs through Parallels, but there is no publicly available version of of Arm Windows that can be purchased. – Michael Harvey Jan 8 at 18:10
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    My question isn’t about how to purchase an arm license. It is whether by purchasing an OEM intel license I will be able to gain access to the Insiders program. – tomh Jan 8 at 18:11
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    Using a Debian 10 box, and Firefox ESR, and a rarely used webmail account, I just obtained a Microsoft account, joined the Insider program, and downloaded the Build 21286 Windows 10 Arm64 VHDX. – Michael Harvey Jan 8 at 19:30
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If I buy an OEM license for Windows 10 (home or professional?) will I be able to activate the Windows Insider programme to access the Windows ARM builds?

Strictly speaking purchasing a version of Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional will not give you access to a license to Windows 10 on ARM. It is not possible to purchase a Windows 10 ARM license separately. Windows 10 for ARM is only sold with ARM devices with eligible processors.

While it might appear that Windows on ARM activates with a Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional license users have reported that’s only temporary.

My activation issue is a little odder. I come up activated but a couple of hours later I get a message that my Windows is unactivated. A reboot resets it.

At this time you can only get an actual Windows 10 On ARM license is if you own a device with a Microsoft SQ1, Microsoft SQ2, Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx, or Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 processor.

The fact an Insider Preview build actually can run on an M1 Apple device, within a Parallels VM, is likely unintentionally at this time.

Please see the linked Reddit page for how that poster did it. If you are part of the Windows Insider beta testing program, you do have access to Arm builds, but you (possibly?) need an active running version of windows to access them, I think?

You need a Windows installation to join the Insider Preview program but you don’t need one to download the virtual machine itself.

Windows 10 on ARM Insider Preview

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  • "It is not possible to purchase a Windows 10 ARM license separately." do you know why or what does Microsoft get out of this OEM-only restriction? The company is selling licenses of Windows OS for past three decades.. idk what makes arm/aarch64 so special that their license are exclusive to OEMs while x86 is up for retail all over the world. They used to do the same "OEM exclusive" thing back when Windows on mips/mips64 was a real thing used in palm-tops.. In comparison, linux distros are acquirable from their download pages for all supported architectures without this sort of distinction. – vulcan raven Apr 23 at 17:03
  • @vulcanraven - No; I don’t because Microsoft hasn’t published their reason. With Parallels now on M1 capable Apple devices being possible it’s very likely Microsoft will clarify the future of Windows on ARM. – Ramhound Apr 23 at 18:00
  • Hopefully soon. I just wish they made other Windows architectures as accessible/purchasable as x86, to simplify it for world full of heterogeneous devices. – vulcan raven Apr 23 at 19:26

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