Rosetta Won't Support x86 Virtualization Apps Running Windows

Apple yesterday announced plans to build future Macs with its own custom silicon chips, and to ease the transition away from Intel processors, Apple revived the "Rosetta" feature that allowed PowerPC apps to run on Intel processors during the PowerPC to Intel transition.


Now revived, Rosetta will allow users to run apps that contain x86_64 instructions on Apple silicon, which means Intel-based apps will continue to work on Macs using custom Apple chips.

Rosetta is meant to provide developers with time to create native versions of apps, and there are a few limitations that are worth noting. As outlined in developer documentation shared this week, while Rosetta will be able to translate most Intel-based apps, it will not work with Virtual Machine apps that virtualize x86_64 computer platforms.

That means Apple's future Macs with Apple-designed chips will not natively support running current versions of software like VMWare or Parallels to run x86 Windows within the virtualization software. Other native solutions may appear, but will require efforts from 3rd party developers.

Right now, Macs have a Boot Camp feature that allows Windows to be run on them, but Apple has announced no similar feature for Macs equipped with Apple silicon. Kernel extensions also aren't able to be translated by Rosetta.

Rosetta can translate most Intel-based apps, including apps that contain just-in-time (JIT) compilers. However, Rosetta doesn't translate the following executables:

- Kernel extensions
- Virtual Machine apps that virtualize x86_64 computer platforms

Rosetta translates all x86_64 instructions, but it doesn't support the execution of some newer instruction sets and processor features, such as AVX, AVX2, and AVX512 vector instructions. If you include these newer instructions in your code, execute them only after verifying that they are available. For example, to determine if AVX512 vector instructions are available, use the sysctlbyname function to check the hw.optional.avx512f attribute.

Along with Rosetta, Apple has launched a new Universal App Quick Start Program for developers, which provides "tools, resources, and support" for testing and optimizing universal apps for macOS Big Sur.

Developers can apply to participate in the program, which provides a Developer Transition Kit that looks similar to a Mac mini but is equipped with an A12Z Bionic chip from the iPad Pro as well as 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD, among other features.

The DTK will allow developers to begin creating apps that work with both Intel chips and Apple silicon, while Rosetta will provide support during the transitionary period. Apple said it will introduce the first Mac with a custom chip in 2020, and that it would take two years to transition the entire Mac lineup to its own chips.

More information on Rosetta, how it works, and the exclusions can be found on Apple's developer website.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
Well, I suppose I’ll buy an XPS or a Thinkpad X1 Extreme when my MBP 16 comes out of service.

That sucks. But there’s just no way any of the apps I need are going to be rewritten for ARM, most of them don’t even exist for MacOS, but I get by with Bootcamp or VMWare Fusion.

I know a lot of other fellow engineers of various types will feel my pain here.
Score: 79 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
No VMs and BootCamp on ARM-based Mac product lines. Okay then, I think I'll keep my Intel MacBook as long as possible just for the sake of my Parallels in it.
And when the time has come, I think it would be better to settle on iPad + Windows laptop combo to get the best of both world.
Score: 54 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
Now all that Microsoft needs to do is create Windows for ARM that doesn't suck.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks ago


umm Didn't the Demo show them running Parallels with a Linux virtual machine? Wouldn't this mean that Parallels is already working on a version for the Apple Silicon that can virtualize X86_64 systems?

Plenty of Linux builds for ARM.
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
Ouch. Then again Apple has the telemetry and knows how few of us actually use Windows VMs and/or Bootcamp. We are a small bunch of vocal individuals, but the actual percentage of us in the community has to be quite low. And I'm not quitting MacOS over this. I have a cheapo Windows Laptop that will do just fine for the 3-4 time a year that I need to run Windows.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
14 weeks ago
Time to dig out that old copy of Connectix Virtual PC.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories: iOS 14 Feature Tour, 'iPhone 12 mini' Rumors, Apple Watch Band Controversy

Saturday September 26, 2020 6:00 am PDT by
Things started to calm down a bit this week following last week's rush of media event, Apple Watch and iPad launches, and the release of iOS 14 and other operating updates. But that doesn't mean there wasn't still a lot of news, from digging deeper into iOS 14 to more iPhone 12 rumors to the uproar over trying to exchange band sizes on the new Apple Watch. On top of all of that, we heard...

'iPhone 12 mini' Name Reappears in Leaked Apple iPhone 12 Case Stickers

Friday September 25, 2020 1:58 am PDT by
Earlier this week a proven leaker claimed that the iPhone 12 lineup would be named "iPhone 12 mini," "iPhone 12," "iPhone 12 Pro," and "iPhone 12 Pro Max," and today the same nomenclature has appeared again in a photo depicting alleged stickers from unreleased Silicone iPhone cases originating from Apple's international distribution center in Ireland. The photo shows three stickers with the...

iOS 14: 'Phoenix 2' Space Shooter Delivers Playable Demo via App Clips

Saturday September 26, 2020 2:08 pm PDT by
One of the new features that arrived in iOS 14 is called App Clips. App Clips is described by Apple to be a "small part of your app" that can be available to users at just the right moment.App Clips focus on finishing one task quickly. An ideal App Clip experience allows users to open and complete a task in seconds. Instead of requiring an App Store download, they can be loaded and run via...

Apple Releases iOS 14.0.1 With Fix for Bug That Resets Default Apps After Rebooting

Thursday September 24, 2020 10:12 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 14.0.1, the first update to the iOS 14 operating system that was released on September 16. Today's update is a bug fix update addressing issues that weren't able to be fixed in the initial iOS 14 launch. The iOS 14.0.1 update is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to Settings > General > Software Update. ...

Upcoming Xbox App Update Will Let Xbox Users Stream Games to iPhone and iPad

Friday September 25, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Microsoft is testing a new version of its Xbox app that will let Xbox users play games remotely on their iPhones and iPads using streaming functionality. The new feature was rolled out to TestFlight users this morning. The Xbox streaming option is distinct from Microsoft's xCloud service, which it has been clashing with Apple over. xCloud is designed to stream games from Microsoft's servers, ...

Microsoft Internally Worked on a Mac OS X Aqua Inspired Windows XP Theme

Saturday September 26, 2020 10:51 am PDT by
Microsoft tested a Windows XP theme that closely resembled Mac OS X's Aqua GUI, reports The Verge. A recent Windows XP source code leak has revealed various unreleased themes that Microsoft developed in 2000, at a time when Microsoft was in heated competition with Apple regarding desktop operating systems. One of the themes, codenamed "Candy," mirrors the design of Apple's Aqua...

Video Offers Closer Look at Apple Face Mask

Friday September 25, 2020 5:25 am PDT by
YouTube channel Unbox Therapy has today shared a new video giving a closer look at Apple's reusable face masks for corporate and retail employees. Apple's own face mask was designed by the company's Engineering and Industrial Design teams amid the global health crisis for corporate and retail employees, and the boxes include Apple's famous "Designed by Apple in California" text. The...

iPhone 12 May Launch Earlier Than Usual in South Korea

Monday September 28, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
The upcoming iPhone 12 lineup may launch earlier than usual in South Korea, reports The Korea Herald. South Korean telecoms firms speaking to The Korea Herald have said that the iPhone 12 lineup will launch ahead of its usual schedule. Normally, the release of new iPhones in South Korea comes about one month after launch in the United States. Last year, the iPhone 11 arrived in South Korea ...

New Version of Microsoft Office Coming Next Year That Won't Require a Subscription

Thursday September 24, 2020 1:53 am PDT by
Microsoft will next year offer a new perpetual release of Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows that doesn't require a subscription to use, according to the software giant (via Windows Central). "Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021," said Microsoft in a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange server,...

iOS 14 Widgets Offer iPhone Users Creative Home Screen Ideas

Sunday September 20, 2020 8:43 pm PDT by
Updated on September 22nd with hands on video. In iOS 14, Apple introduced ‌the concept of Home Screen‌ widgets, which provide information from apps at a glance. Widgets can be pinned to the Home Screen in various spots and sizes, allowing for many different layouts. Despite the relative lack of...