LittleBITS: Crab Fit, Insta360 GO 2, myCharge MAG-LOCK, Windows on M1 Macs

Originally published at: LittleBITS: Crab Fit, Insta360 GO 2, myCharge MAG-LOCK, Windows on M1 Macs - TidBITS

Frustrated by wanting to write about various topics that are either too big or too small (or too something) for a full article, Adam Engst resorts to sharing some short stories that may be enlightening, enjoyable, or just allow him to close a loop in his head.

I find that the reply by your Parallels contact regarding their stance on Windows on ARM is interesting, and at the same time somewhat disingenuous. Reading between the lines, they know full well that Microsoft does not intend to support what they’re doing, but they don’t want to come out and tell this to their customers as their business is primarily “Windows on Mac”.

Until Microsoft changes their position, using Parallels for Windows on ARM is best left to the hobbyist. Using it for real work is taking the chance that if something breaks you won’t get help from Microsoft.

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That’s definitely a concern, although I don’t know that Microsoft could be counted on to provide any useful support even if you had a problem with a supported version of Windows under Parallels Desktop. I somehow doubt that’s a configuration Microsoft tests against.

The question then is if Parallels would be able to provide the support you need, and that’s a different judgment call.

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Well at least Microsoft considers Intel processors that Apple uses a supported chipset on which to run Windows. They do not consider Apple Silicon a supported chipset for Windows on ARM - only Qualcomm Snapdragon and the two derivatives that Microsoft used in the Surface.

Windows hardware support is tricky and yes, they don’t test every permutation. However, they start by specifying a list of supported CPUs for the product, and certain features such as the TPM module. From that point OEMs provide peripheral drivers (disks, graphics cards, sound cards, etc.) if needed. As of Windows 11 those seem to be WHCL certified new-style drivers. I bet Microsoft expects OEMs to provide that support and testing from what I’ll call a “reference configuration”. This works for virtualization because the vendors start with a Microsoft-certified chipset (Intel) and then add either emulated devices for standard Windows drivers, or drivers for their virtual devices (e.g VMware Tools or open-vm-tools).

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Adam: I find Kurt Schmucker’s reply a masterpiece in evasion and obfuscation, as I expect do you. This does not bode well.

I am faced with yet another upgrade decision, and M-chipped Macs’ inability to host anything much under Parallels is a major issue, not least because I have taken the ‘freeze and virtualize’ approach rather than OS Upgrade Hell over the past two decades. As a result I work a lot in Office for Mac 2004. (It works, I paid for it, it does what I need, so why not? And that’s not even going anywhere near my major software investments – Adobe.)

Unless and until (or even if: it might be technically impossible) Apple silicon can support the massive raft of virtualized OS-es that Intel silicon can in Parallels, it will sadly remain a closed world to me.

Office 2019 / 365 on Mac is a universal App and in 2016 was re-written from scratch in native Cocoa. It runs very well indeed and it’s updated frequently. I don’t know the specifics of the particular workflow. But the only downside is that the Office for Mac apps are sandboxed so if your VBA / Macros / Add-ons access things outside of Word they may not work. If the 3rd party that created an Add-on doesn’t bother to support Mac then you’ll need to find an alternative. The Apps are sandboxed because they are in the App Store but can also be downloaded and installed from Microsoft but they are still coded to run in a sandbox.

There’s always more than one way to accomplish a goal and some of these workflows may have been cobbled together over the years using available tools but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. We had a metric ton of custom spreadsheets and MS Access databases and the like where some whizkid in a department built it and the whole department used it then the whizkid leaves the company and there is no one to support it. Unless you find a grizzled old engineer who happens to be having a really great day and they are bored, they might take a stab at peeling back the layers and tackling the mess under the hood. Eventually we started looking into all the business apps and eliminated redundancies and replaced multiple toolchains into modern web apps. So instead of a home grown app launching Word to generate a letter, we have a web app that generates a PDF hooked to a record in a cloud based database server. As time went on we eliminated a lot of these kludge solutions from decades ago. One such tool was a PTO time tracking Access database. We just installed the HR tool Workday and that offered the same functionality even better.

Personally, I find Word to be such a tangled mess that I can barely stand it. Pages is far easier but underpowered. I’ve taken to writing technical documentation in LaTeX and I can check the markup text files into a git code repository. I even found ways to automate it with various scripts and python. I can now crank out technical documentation and make it look amazing in PDF’s. The only trouble with LaTeX is the learning curve but it’s not all that bad. Once you have your templates set up the rest is inputting the content with minimal markup. If you have a programmers text editor it’s a piece of cake. But alas it is not for everyone. Yes, it does mathematic formula formatting exceptionally well. But it can do complex book layouts, presentations, pamphlets, etc. It is a very capable typesetting system.

To be clear, I’m not criticizing Kurt. He and Parallels have to navigate a tough situation that’s not of their making and isn’t under their control. In our ideal world, Microsoft would just release Windows 11 for ARM and throw their full support behind it. Obviously, that’s not happening, and I’m sure there are multiple reasons for that too.

Unfortunately, this is going to be a major pain point for you, should you want to keep doing this in the future. It might be worth considering upgrading to some newer apps.

Sooner or later, you will be forced to upgrade. Once Apple stops making Intel Macs and the marketplace for used equipment dries up, your only other option will be to abandon Macs altogether.

We won’t see virtualization environments capable of running Intel (or PPC) operating systems. That’s simply not what virtualization does. VMs on Apple Silicon will be able to run ARM-based operating systems, but not Intel.

But that’s not necessarily the end of the road. There is also the possibility of emulation, where ARM-based software emulates an Intel (or PPC) processor and related system hardware in order to run operating systems designed for those platforms.

You may want to look here for some starting points: Apple Silicon M1: How to run x86 and ARM Virtual Machines on it? | by Dmitry Yarygin | Medium

It looks like there are a few products that might work. All are emulators based on QEMU. I don’t know if any of these are yet capable of running macOS in emulation.

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I also ran across this article:

It would appear that at least one blogger is using QEMU on Apple Silicon to emulate a PowerPC Mac, running Mac OS X 10.4. This may be able to run Office 2004.

If it works, you will probably see better results this way. Emulating a PPC Mac vs. emulating an Intel Mac with Rosetta.

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For those intrigued by the small size of the Insta360 GO 2 but put off by its recording limitations, there’s now a 64 GB model that presumably doubles the recording time in different modes.

A few weeks ago, I inquired about whether TidBits staff
had had any experience with Windows for ARM, and Adam kindly did some testing. I finally took the leap, and here are some preliminary thoughts:

I’m using the M1 model of the new 14" MacBook Pro running Monterey and Parallels 17. There were initially some weird problems that prevented me from logging into my Microsoft Insider account to download Windows for ARM. For example, the Web site told me my login name didn’t exist (even though it worked just fine on my older Intel laptop), and it didn’t matter whether I typed the login name or copy/pasted it. That problem went away after an OS update and a Parallels update, so I can’t say
where the original problem lay.

I wasn’t able to find a downloadable Windows 10 or Windows 11 Home (i.e., free) version for ARM (i.e., for the M1 chip). Windows 11 Pro downloaded with no problems and is running reasonably well, though I’ve only tested Word. Windows keeps reminding me to authenticate (and pay a steep upgrade price from Windows 10), but doesn’t require it. The only apparent downside is that some customization features, like pinning Microsoft Word to the taskbar, aren’t available. I can live with that.

I purchased a new license of Office 2019 (very difficult to find online these days), installed it, and Word launched just fine. It took a few hours for me to customize it (exploring all the Options settings, reinstalling my macros, rebinding a bunch of keyboard shortcuts, redoing my autocorrects) and begin playing around. I’ve now run Word 2019 for about a day of work, and it’s been solid, though with some glitches.

The biggest glitches relate to the screen display. In Web/Online view, Word suddenly stops displaying the file contents midway through the file, and none of the usual workarounds (restart Word, change view modes, select then deselect text to force a screen redraw) fixed the problem. Switching to Print Layout view solved that problem, but now the comment balloons now occasionally resize to a tiny column of text (about
5 to 10 characters wide) crowded against the left margin of the balloon. It’s readable, but awkward. The comments do sometimes return to their correct layout for reasons I can’t identify. Other weirdnesses include the fact that the text language no longer displays in the status bar at the bottom of the document window, even if I check and uncheck that option. The display of tracked changes showed only “simple layout” until
I manually reset it to “all layout”.

Another glitch relates to customized keystrokes. The standard Control+Right Arrow or Left Arrow keys Word uses to move one word right or left stopped working, even though adding the Shift key to that keystroke worked just fine. I finally tracked that down to a conflict with Apple’s Mission Control software, which used those keystrokes for another purpose. Deleting those keystrokes in the Mission Control preferences solved the problem, though I’m still unable to use Control+Alt+Home/End as a custom shortcut to move to the beginning and end (respectively) of a sentence. I suspect those shortcuts are hidden somewhere in Parallels. Finding out where will be a task for later today.

Overall verdict: I can now run Word 2019 for Windows on my M1 laptop. There are glitches and annoyances, but thus far, none has been a show-stopper, and I’ll report the bugs to Parallels to see if they can figure out a solution.


Out of interest, what do you gain by running Word for Windows over Word for Mac? It seems like the latter would be a much smoother experience.

As an editor who’s used Word since 1997 and Macs since 1987, I find that Word for Mac has always been (imnsho) a Microsoft strategy for persuading Mac users to move to Windows. It’s always been slower, buggier, and feature-removed/compromised compared with the corresponding Windows version. It differs from the Windows interface in egregious ways, though some of those are actually improvements (e.g., the Preferences dialog). But for a power user like me, who lives in Word most of each work day, using Word for Mac is like dragging anchor chains behind me: slow, exhausting, and periodically the chains snag on something and bring me to a screeching halt. And I’m saying this as someone who literally wrote a book on onscreen editing and who uses my Mac for everything except editing. I haven’t quantified the difference, but my crude estimate is that I’m 20% more productive in WinWord.

To be fair, MacWord is a competent writing tool, despite its limitations, and I use it for most of my writing. But I consider MacWord to be unusable for heavy-duty editing like the work I do.


There are no “Free” versions of Windows except if you get it as part of a system (and Windows Home is not free). What you can get for free are evaluation versions, beta builds and Windows Insider Previews. (insider previews are not supported and according to Microsoft must be run on systems that are licensed for Windows). Microsoft not bothering with enforcing its licensing shouldn’t be confused with its licensing agreements that only grant the right to use the software on a properly licensed device.

My biggest problem with Windows on ARM is that there’s no way to buy a properly licensed and supported version of it. Microsoft’s exclusivity deal with Qualcomm, selling Windows on ARM only to OEMs and statements that they won’t support Apple Silicon as a Windows supported processor has seen to that. If you poke around Microsoft’s communities, they’re saying the same thing over there when asked about Windows for ARM on M1 Macs.

I’m using it for tinkering around. But if I had to depend on it for a living, I’d pass on it.

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Windows 11 is a free upgrade for most users of Windows 10, but you’re right that it isn’t “legally” available for ARM. In theory, Microsoft could shut it down for virtual machines, particularly on Apple silicon, but I’ve been using Windows under Parallels for 5+ years with no problem. That suggests to me that Microsoft’s happy to have people using its products under Parallels (I’ve bought the last 5 or so versoins of Word for Window), but don’t want to be legally committed to supporting those uses. Ditto for M1 Macs. But I’d be very surprised if they don’t open up Windows for Apple silicon in the next couple years. It’s a huge market, and if nothing else, Microsoft is all about colonizing new markets.

I spent about a day working in Word 2019 with no major problems, so I’m hoping to continue that in the new year. If it doesn’t work, I’m keeping my old Mac so I can run Word under Windows 10, which works well enough to meet my needs. I’ll probably be at least semi-retired within the next 5 years, so if Microsoft puts the kibosh on Windows for ARM, it will no longer affect me.