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.

applesilicon
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

Chompineer Avatar
19 months 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: 80 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SamRyouji Avatar
19 months 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)
Paradoxally Avatar
19 months ago
Now all that Microsoft needs to do is create Windows for ARM that doesn't suck.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chompineer Avatar
19 months 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)
CalMin Avatar
19 months 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)
klagermkii Avatar
19 months ago
Time to dig out that old copy of Connectix Virtual PC.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

airtag in hand

Apple AirTag Linked to Increasing Number of Car Thefts, Canadian Police Report

Friday December 3, 2021 7:10 am PST by
Apple's AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police. Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag's location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely ...
telsa cyberwhistle

Elon Musk Urges Customers to Buy 'Tesla Cyberwhistle' Instead of Apple Polishing Cloth

Wednesday December 1, 2021 4:01 am PST by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has encouraged customers to buy the "Cyberwhistle" for $50 instead of Apple's much-discussed Polishing Cloth. The product page, which Musk shared on Twitter on Tuesday evening, offers a limited edition stainless steel whistle with the same distinctive design of the Tesla Cybertruck:Inspired by Cybertruck, the limited-edition Cyberwhistle is a premium collectible made from ...
maxresdefault

Five Features to Look Forward to in the 2022 MacBook Air

Tuesday November 30, 2021 1:51 pm PST by
In 2022, Apple is going to release an updated version of the MacBook Air with some of the biggest design changes that we've seen since 2010, when Apple introduced the 11 and 13-inch size options. In the video below, we highlight five features that you need to know about the new machine. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. No More Wedge Design - Current MacBook...
apple top apps games 2020

Apple Reveals the Most Downloaded iOS Apps and Games of 2021

Thursday December 2, 2021 12:05 am PST by
Along with naming its editorial picks for the top apps and games of 2021, Apple today shared charts for the most downloaded free and paid apps and games in the United States across 2021. The number one most downloaded free iPhone app was TikTok, followed by YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. The top paid iPhone apps included Procreate Pocket, HotSchedules, The Wonder Weeks, and Touch...
iPhone SE Cosmopolitan Clean

New iPhone SE Reportedly on Track for Release in First Quarter of 2022

Tuesday November 30, 2021 8:08 am PST by
Apple plans to release a third-generation iPhone SE in the first quarter of 2022, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. If this timeframe proves to be accurate, we can expect the device to be released by the end of March. As previously rumored, TrendForce said the new iPhone SE will remain a mid-range smartphone with added support for 5G:In terms of product development, Apple is...
m3 feature black

Macs With 'M3' Chips Expected to Use TSMC's 3nm Chip Technology With Test Production Reportedly Underway

Thursday December 2, 2021 7:36 am PST by
Apple's chipmaking partner TSMC has kicked off pilot production of chips built on its 3nm process, known as N3, according to Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report, citing unnamed industry sources, claims that TSMC will move the process to volume production by the fourth quarter of 2022 and start shipping 3nm chips to customers like Apple and Intel in the first quarter of...
apple view concept right corner

Apple Planning to Replace the iPhone With AR Headset in 10 Years

Wednesday December 1, 2021 2:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to replace the iPhone with an augmented reality (AR) headset in 10 years, a process that is apparently due to start as soon as next year with the launch of a head-mounted device, according to a recent report. Concept render of Apple's rumored AR headset by Antonio De Rosa In a note to investors seen by MacRumors, eminent analyst Ming-Chi Kuo explained that "Apple's goal is...