Parallels on M1 Mac won't run 10.12 Sierra – Now what do I do?

I’ve just set up my shiny new Mac Studio and have learned to my extreme disappointment that Parallels won’t run OS 10.12 Sierra as a virtual machine. This leaves me seriously stuck. What options do I have?

More information: I have found that UTM (Universal Turing Machine) should do the job, but I cannot get the Sierra .iso image to load. There are no instructions on how to set up a virtual machine in it. Can anyone shed any light?

So you found out too late that Intel operating systems don’t virtualize on Apple Silicon Macs. Ouch.

You may be able to get Intel macOS releases to work under UTM/QEMU, but you will not be pleased with the lack of performance that emulation provides.

If you’re up for a science project, see the following article

Thanks for the sympathy. I’ve been experimenting with UTM and can get halfway to installing El Capitan (though nothing else), but, as you observe, the emulation is hugely laggy.

I really would like to replace my MacPro with a Mac Studio. But if Intel virtualization does not work (and I assume that includes Windows) then Apple Silicon is a no-go for me.

I hate being so far behind but I need to virtualize Snow Leopard and Mojave and Windows.

Guess I’m not part of Apple’s demographic anymore. Sigh…

Apple certainly threw a monkey wrench into expectations when they made the switch to Apple Silicon from Intel. Lots of gains but unfortunately there are nasty side effects for some.

Windows will be doable with ARM virtualization. But you will need Windows 11 for ARM. Windows XP/7/8 are a lost cause for virtualization as they are Intel only and Windows 10 for ARM is not as functional compared to its Intel counterpart. Windows 11 for ARM actually runs pretty well, and Microsoft seems to have done a decent job with their x86_64 translator that allows Intel Windows apps to run on ARM CPUs.

Virtualizing old Intel macOS releases on Apple Silicon Macs is unfortunately a casualty.

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Final update: UTM will run Intel code on an M1, but it is as slow as treacle. So I bit the bullet and migrated to Word 2019 (which is missing key parts of my work routine) and have bought an old iMac for those few things that still run on 32-bit software.