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Rosetta Mac App Translation Process Can Take 20 Seconds on First Launch [Updated]

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Apr 12, 2001
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Given that Apple's new M1 chip is designed based on ARM architecture, apps built for Intel's x86 architecture will need to be run through Apple's translation layer Rosetta 2 in order to function on Apple Silicon Macs, and this process can take some time.


Microsoft this week indicated that when launching any of its Mac apps for the first time on Apple Silicon Macs, the apps will bounce in the dock for approximately 20 seconds while the Rosetta 2 translation process is completed, with all subsequent launches being fast. This applies to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, and OneDrive.

Apple's developer documentation acknowledges this matter, noting that the Rosetta 2 translation process "takes time" and that users "might perceive that translated apps launch or run more slowly at times" as a result:
If an executable contains only Intel instructions, macOS automatically launches Rosetta and begins the translation process. When translation finishes, the system launches the translated executable in place of the original. However, the translation process takes time, so users might perceive that translated apps launch or run more slowly at times.
To avoid this translation process, developers can create a universal binary for their apps, allowing them to run natively on both Apple Silicon Macs and Intel-based Macs with one executable file. Microsoft is one of many developers in the process of doing so.

A handful of apps have already been announced with universal support, including Darkroom, djay Pro AI, and OmniFocus.

The first Macs with the M1 chip will begin arriving to customers Tuesday.

Update - November 14: Microsoft has since changed the wording of its support document, and now simply says that the first launch of each Office app "will take longer," rather than specifying 20 seconds. We’re told this is because Microsoft has not yet confirmed exact speeds on production hardware.

Article Link: Rosetta Mac App Translation Process Can Take 20 Seconds on First Launch [Updated]
 
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ani4ani

macrumors 65816
May 4, 2012
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I am not familiar with Rosetta, but will it translate any x86 program, e.g. Visio or similar?
 
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bugFinder

macrumors member
May 27, 2020
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I wonder if Rosetta 2 will work with MacTex. I need LaTex and I don't want to completely rely on Overleaf.
 
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sarcosis

macrumors 6502a
Apr 25, 2006
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These United States
Ok thanks, so it will translate x86 Word MacOS version but not the Windows Word version
Yup that's right. Rosetta 2 will only translate Intel based macOS based applications. If you have a Windows application, it will not be translated since that has another whole bag of tricks you need to deal with (windows registry entries, dependant dll's, etc.). That being said, I'm wondering why they don't do this upon installation and just make the install process longer instead of doing it on first launch. Seems a bit off on the UI/UX considering after about 10 seconds, I just assume the darn thing crashed.
 
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Lord Hamsa

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2013
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I suppose given that developers are being encouraged to update their apps to be universal means it's unlikely that we'd just see Rosetta translation occur at install time instead of first launch, but really, it's a small price to pay for the backwards compatibility.
 
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midkay

macrumors regular
Jan 27, 2008
232
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This seems like a real non-issue in that it only happens once. However, I’m a bit surprised they didn’t go the one step further and pre-perform this translation during installation, as opposed to waiting for the user to attempt to launch the app.
 
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anson42

Contributor
Mar 13, 2014
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Possibly, though those applications will probably run native once the Arm native JRE comes out.
I just tried googling for progress on that but came up empty, just talk of Microsoft and Azul and others working on it. I expect we'll see OpenJDK first but it's unclear which versions will be Arm native.
 
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