Apple's M1 Macs have really impressed since their launch late last year, both for their performance and for the ability of macOS to help ease the transition to an ARM-based processor via Rosetta 2.
Unfortunately, MacRumors writer Steve Moser uncovered code in the latest macOS 11.3 beta 3 that suggests Rosetta 2 may be disabled in some regions, leaving those Apple M1 users without a built-in method to run legacy apps (via 9to5Mac).
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While developers are increasingly converting their apps over to offer native Apple M1 support, there are still vastly more apps that require x86 emulation via Rosetta 2 to run properly on the M1-based MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Mac Mini.
Now the hope is that this is purely a precautionary move as Apple may be worried about litigation from Intel. Microsoft faced threats from Intel for its x86 app emulation for Windows 10 on ARM in 2017. It's a problem that Microsoft has struggled with, it wasn't until December 2020 that Microsoft announced emulation support for modern x86 64-bit apps.
Apple is removing Rosetta from Macs during updates in certain countries in Mac 11.3 beta 3. Maybe this is due to legal issues? “Rosetta will be removed upon installing this update” “Rosetta is no longer available in your region. Applications requiring Rosetta will no longer urn” pic.twitter.com/NmsjXOwPvPMarch 3, 2021
Particularly as Apple begins shipping considerably more M1-based Macs this year, it wouldn't want to face a sales ban or restriction if Intel were successful in legal action against them. This feature would allow Apple to quickly and easily disable the infringing functionality presumably without missing a beat on sales.
While Intel is no doubt less than thrilled with the reception Apple's M1 has received, there hasn't been any indications of an impending lawsuit, the most we've seen from Intel is posturing regarding its advantages over the M1. For now, this is just a warning that Apple has seen fit to introduce this functionality, there's every chance that we will never actually see it in action.