Monday, April 25, 2022

Creating a Windows 11 VM on a MacBook with M1 processor using VMware Fusion

When building internet applications, testing across multiple browsers and operating systems is essential. You want to be sure your application can be accessed by as many users as possible. I currently develop on Linux and macOS systems, so testing Windows can be a bit of a challenge. Virtual Machines (VMs) are a great way to overcome this hurdle.

This article will capture the steps I used to get a Windows 11 VM running on Apple's newer M1 ARM processor using VMware Fusion.

Download and install VMware Tech Preview

Based on my previous experiences with other virtualization products, my preference is to use VMware as they seem to have the best end user experience and performance. In addition, the VMware Tech Preview is currently free. Here's the location where I was able to download VMware Fusion from: Note the "for ARM" in the download version label.

Download and install Windows 11 Insider Preview

Microsoft has an insider preview of an ARM 64 version of Windows 11, which means you won't need to purchase a license. However, you will need a Microsoft login, so if you don't have one you'll need to create it. In addition, you will need to sign up for their tech preview program. Once this is all completed you can download the necessary software here:

Side note: During my research I found a link to this site,, that does appear to have copies of Windows. I didn't trust the authenticity of the site and instead went directly to Microsoft to get an official download.

Convert the VHDX to VMDX

The download from Microsoft is a VHDX file which VMware Fusion doesn't read directly. Luckily there is a nice utility, qemu-img, that will convert the VHDX to a VMDK file. I use brew on my system so I simply ran
brew install qemu
After that completed I ran the following from my Downloads directory

qemu-img convert -f vhdx -O vmdk Windows11_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64_en-us_22598.VHDX Windows11_InsiderPreview_Client_ARM64_en-us_22598.vmdk

Creating the VM

1. Select File -> New in Fusion

2. Select 'Create a custom virtual machine' and press 'Continue'

3. Select 'Other 64-bit Arm' and press 'Continue'

4. Select 'Use an existing virtual disk' then press 'Choose virtual disk...'

5. Locate and select the 'vmdk' created in the previous section, select 'Make a separate copy of the virtual disk', the press 'Choose'.

6. Confirm the settings and press 'Continue'

7. Press 'Customize Settings' in order to give the VM the necessary CPU and memory needed.

8. Use the default or set a custom name for the VM and press 'Save'. This will cause the vmdk to be copied.

9. Select "Processors & Memory"

10. I increased the CPU count to 4 cores and Memory to 4 GB and closed that window by pressing the red close button. 

11. Then clicked the big Play button to start the VM.

12. After a short amount of time and a VM restart, the following screen came up:

I continued but found but was quickly stopped at the network connect screen. It appears there isn't a default driver available that works with the VMware virtual network. So here are some steps to get around it.

  • Press Shift + F10 to open a command window

After the above, the installer automatically restarted.

13. Enter your Country, then Keyboard settings. Now when we get to the network connection page, a new option is now visible that allows skipping the required network:

14. Press "I don't have internet", then "Continue with limited setup".

15. Finish the rest of the setup and... Windows is up and running!

Fix Networking

Hey wait - the VM isn't going to be very useful for testing websites if it cannot connect to the internet!


We need to get that network interface working! Luckily there is a hack that sets up the network by using the Microsoft Kernel Debug Network Adapter.

Open Device Manager and find the Ethernet Controller under "Other devices", right click and select "Update driver"

Select "Browse my computer for drivers"

Select "Let me pick..."

Scroll and find "Network adapters" and press "Next"

Select "Microsoft" then scroll to find "Microsoft Kernel Debug Network Adapter" and press "Next"

Press "Yes" when the warning comes up

Now, open a command window as Administrator

Run "bcdedit /debug on"

Run "bcdedit /dbgsettings NET PORT:yyyyy"
(replace with your IP range schema & yyyyy must be >49152, I used 50000)

Restart the VM

When the VM comes up again you should see the following:

macOS permissions request modal

Enter your admin username and password to and click ok.

The Windows VM should now show it is connected.

Testing with Internet Explorer

Microsoft has stated that support for Internet Explorer is retiring on June 15, 2022. Ideally many websites will stop supporting it too. However, we still have business requirements to support it and test it, so how can we test this with Windows 11? It looks like Microsoft Edge in Windows 11 has a "compatibility" mode which can be turned on in the Settings: 

With the Internet Explorer compatibility now allowed, the following screen shows a new available selection:

A few more setting options after switching to IE compatibility mode:

Super, now Edge should be using the IE compatibility mode and we can test websites with IE.