Running Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Mac

Last Updated:
August 23, 2023

Running Microsoft Remote Desktop on a Mac

Macs are Gaining Market Share

While Windows® PCs have long dominated the market, Macs are gaining market share.

SecureMac reported that in the U.S., Macs had a 23% market share in enterprise environments in 2021, up from 17% in 2019. According to techjury, macOS® is the second-most-used OS among all desktop operating systems in the U.S. at 29.62%, with Windows #1 at 57.37%.

Why are Macs gaining traction for business and personal use? Despite the fact that Macs are considerably more expensive than PCs, Mac® users say that they are more satisfied and productive than when they used a PC. Vanson Bourne, a global third-party market research firm, conducted a survey in 2019 of Mac users who worked for organizations that offered Mac as a choice for their work machine. The study found that:

  • 97% say their Mac increases their productivity
  • 95% say their Mac increases their creativity
  • 94% say their Mac increases self-sufficiency
  • 79% say they could not do their job as effectively without a Mac

While the above are compelling reasons to allow users to choose Macs, it does create issues for IT teams and Windows ISVs.

Macs Create Issues for IT Teams and Windows ISVs

Many business applications, productivity tools, and proprietary software began as Windows-only applications. While many software companies now offer Mac versions of formerly Windows-only applications, the majority of Mac® versions of Windows applications do not have the same functionality as the Windows version, putting employees using Macs at a disadvantage and making it difficult for Windows and Mac users to share or exchange files. Additionally, most IT teams are “Windows shops” and lack the expertise to fully support employees’ Macs.

Windows ISVs delivering their applications from the cloud can accommodate Mac users by utilizing a virtualization or application publishing solution that supports Mac clients, but most require installation of additional software—in some cases, multiple software applications.

Running Windows Apps on a Mac

There are many ways to deliver Windows applications to Mac users. Here’s a list of some of the many solutions available:

Mac BootCamp

A component of MacOS that allows a user to partition a Mac hard drive to run Windows and MacOS on a local Mac. Note that Boot Camp requires significant hard drive space and is not supported on newer Macs with M1 and M2 chips.

VMware® Fusion

A desktop hypervisor that allows a Mac user to run the Windows OS on a Mac. Requires a Windows OS license purchase. The Windows VM can run as a stand-alone machine or can connect to a Windows server running Remote Desktop Services (RDS) located in a public or private cloud. Note that on newer Macs with M1 and M2 chips, Fusion supports the ARM editions of Windows 10 and 11.

Parallels® Desktop for Mac

Desktop virtualization software that allows a user to run Windows, Linus, or OS X operating systems and the applications created for them on a Mac. To connect to a Windows server running Remote Desktop Services (RDS), the user will need to download and install Microsoft Remote Desktop App on the Windows virtual machine. Note that use of Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac with Parallels Desktop for Mac requires purchase of a user license for each named user.

Microsoft® Remote Desktop for Mac

Client software that allows a Mac to connect to a Windows server using Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to work with virtualized Windows apps and desktops. The Windows server can be running in a private or public cloud. Remote Desktop for Mac also allows Macs to connect to Azure Virtual Desktop, Windows 365, or remote PCs. Note that use of Microsoft Remote Desktop for Mac requires purchase of a user license for each named user.

Citrix® Workspace app for Mac

An easy-to-install app that allows Macs to access virtualized Windows applications delivered by Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops or Citrix DaaS. Note that use of Citrix Workspace app for Mac requires purchase of a user license for each named user.


Application publishing software that allows organizations and Windows ISVs to publish Windows applications from any public, private, or hybrid cloud, to any device that supports a browser, including MacOS 10.13 and later. Does not require Mac end users to install additional software on their machines to use Windows applications.

What’s the Easiest Way to Run Windows Apps on a Mac?

Note that most of the solutions above require Macs to have additional software installed in order to run Windows applications. Mac users that choose to install a Windows virtual machine on their Mac then have to install software on the virtual machine to access Windows desktops or applications.

The easiest way to run Windows apps on a Mac is to use GO-Global to publish Windows applications and deliver them to Macs via a browser.

With GO-Global, Windows applications run on the server, which can be installed in any public, private, or hybrid cloud. GO-Global fully replaces Microsoft RDS functionality, including multi-session kernel, Remote Desktop clients, display driver, protocol, internet gateway and management tools.

Because GO-Global does not use RDS, applications published using GO-Global require less IT implementation and management effort, scale more economically, and provide users with a web-native experience. Additionally, GO-Global leverages a cloud services’ existing infrastructure and security and scalability features to deliver advanced functionality with less complexity and lower cost.

Despite its low cost, GO-Global delivers enterprise-level scalability but is easy to install, configure, and use, with considerably less technology overhead required for implementation, and provides a great customer experience, including fast logins and minimal latency, even over low-bandwidth connections. And GO-Global’s Universal Print Driver eliminates printing issues, so customers can print documents without resorting to inconvenient workarounds.

Best of all, Mac users don’t have to do anything extra to use Windows apps.

To learn more, request a demo here or download a free 30-day trial.