It would have taken me a few years, but that’s it; I’ve finally switched to an ARM64 architecture for my daily use. It’s an M3 iMac (so Apple Silicon) in pastel blue color, and it works great!
Except, of course, when you want to make virtual machines. This is where it gets complicated. Indeed, I have a VMware Fusion 13.5 license, and if I want to run a Windows 11 in it, it has to be a Windows ARM.
After a few wanderings, I succeeded, so I’m taking this opportunity to give you a little tutorial on how to install Windows 11 ARM in VMware Fusion.
To get started, you need to get the Windows 11 ARM image from Microsoft. You’ll see that when you download it, you’ll end up with a .VHDX (Hyper-V) totally useless for VMware… Unless you convert it!
And for that, we’re going to use VMware’s vdiskmanager tool. Open a terminal and enter the following command:
/Applications/VMware\ Fusion.app/Contents/Library/vmware-vdiskmanager -r ./Windows11_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64_en-us_22598.VHDX -t 0 ./Windows11.vmdk
This will turn the VHDX into a VMDK (a format you can also open in VirtualBox).
Once that’s done, launch VMware and create a new VM. Then choose “Create Custom Virtual Machine.”
Choose Windows 11 ARM as your operating system, then don’t forget to check the “UEFI Secure Boot” box.
Put a password, then go get the VMDK image as the Virtual Disk.
When selecting, don’t forget to choose “Make a separate copy of the virtual disk.” This will copy the virtual disk to the location of your choice at the time of its creation, in order to avoid any bugs.
Finalize the operation and launch the VM. Tadaaaaa! Windows starts, it’s wonderful, isn’t it?
Except that there’s no VMware virtual network support in this image. So we’re going to have to install Windows without network support. When you’re on this screen (or before), press the SHIFT + F10 key combination (if you have a Mac keyboard, you’ll need to press Fn + F10).
This will open a terminal where you will need to enter the following command:
This will enable the ability to install Windows 11 without network support and restart the installation. Now, you should do this:
“I don’t have the freaking Internet”!! This is the option we needed! Click on it and then click on “Continue With Limited Setup.”
And there you have it, finalize the install, and you will have a beautiful Windows without a network. But what, without a network it sucks, so we’ll fix that. Launch a PowerShell in admin….
And enter the following command and press “A” for “Yes to All”:
Then, all you have to do is install the VMware Tools via the VMware menu.
A little Windows reboot later, and voila, you now have a perfectly functional (but not activated) Windows on your ARM machine.