ARM-wrestling

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Quick geeky post which may help some people out there. I couldn’t find definitive answers to the questions below, and I’ll probably forget them if I don’t write them down somewhere, so here we go.

Background

My 2015 MacBook Pro’s battery has ballooned, even though it was replaced for the same reason back in 2019 (recall program). I make a living off my Mac, so I decided it was time to upgrade my computer in case the old one blew up before I could replace the battery again.

So I went ahead and bought a shiny new refurbished 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro (not cheap exactly, but it actually cost me quite a bit less than the ballooning refurbished 15-inch MacBook back in the day. Go figure.)

Mini-review of my MacBook Pro M1

Best feature, besides the improved speed, screen, FaceTime camera, and speakers? Besides Touch ID? The incredible, absolute, total SILENCE. A dream come true for music-making, especially after suffering through constant fan noise on the Intel Mac.

On to the Q&A.

1. Does Trados Studio (and do other x64 apps) work on Windows 11 ARM?

I had put off upgrading my Mac, because I need to use specialized Windows software for my translation work (Trados Studio, a CAT tool). Running Windows on an Intel Mac via Parallels Desktop was a breeze. But the new Mac uses an Apple chip, an ARM processor, so I was potentially fucked.

Turns out Microsoft makes an ARM version of Windows, and Parallels can run it just fine (installation is built-in and super easy).

But…my CAT tool is an Intel app (x64 binary). Game over? Well it turns out that Windows 11 ARM has a built-in emulator for running Intel apps, and it works remarkably well.

So the end result is the following layer cake:

Trados Studio
x64 emulator
Windows 11 ARM
Parallels Desktop
macOS (Monterey)
Apple silicon chip

So, does Trados Studio work with Windows 11 ARM on an M1 Mac?

Answer: Yes, it works fine!

Fine print: I’m running version 17, a.k.a. 2022 of Trados Studio. Version 2017 doesn’t work. The version of .NET is too old. Recent versions of all my other x64 work utilities also work fine.

Is it reasonably fast? Amazingly, yes.

2. Does KMS activation work with Windows 11 ARM?

My info may be out of date, but last I heard, the ARM version of Windows 11 is not an official release. It is a preview for developers. Nonetheless, if you want to customize anything, you have to pay. Dearly. Which doesn’t seem fair.

So I decided I’d try to activate it via a KMS server, and downloaded the latest version of KMS Pico.

Here’s the generic activation key for the version of Windows installed by Parallels: YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7. Open a Windows command line as an admin and type :

slmgr /ipk YTMG3-N6DKC-DKB77-7M9GH-8HVX7

Then run the latest version of KMS Pico. (You can probably insert the key in KMS Pico and skip the command line altogether).

So, does KMS activation work with Windows 11 ARM running on Parallels running on an M1 Mac?

Answer: Yes it does!

Fine print: It took a long time to find a server, but it did.

3. Bonus question: Does the MOTU Ultralite Firewire audio interface work on Monterey/M1 Macs?

OK, nothing to do with ARM-wrestling, but I also have this old MOTU Ultralite (mk1) audio interface. It was pretty high-end when I got it, what, 15 years ago? Which means it uses Firewire. Macs haven’t had Firewire ports in ages. I bought an overpriced Firewire to Thunderbolt adapter from Apple to use the interface on my old MacBook Pro. It worked flawlessly.

But the new M1 Macs don’t have Thunderbolt(-shaped) ports. They have USB 3-type Thunderbolt ports. I searched forever for an Firewire to USB 3 cable, in vain.

So I thought fuck it, I’m already spending a fortune (though I’m expensing it), so let’s get the overpriced Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) to Thunderbolt 2 adapter from Apple and see what happens.

So now I have the following layer cake:

Ultralite
Firewire cable
Firewire to Thunderbolt adaptor
Thunderbolt 3 to Thunderbolt 2 adaptor
M1 MacBook Pro 
Firewire cable into two dongles…

Does it work? Well, maybe, but not without drivers. Except that there are no available drivers for this really old interface beyond macOS Mojave, and the new Mac runs Monterey or better. So I tried installing the drivers for the Ultralite Mk3 Hybrid (which has firewire and USB ports) and so…

Does the MOTU Ultralite mk1 work on M1 Macs running Big Sur or Monterey?

Answer: Yes, it does!

Fine print: Be sure to read the tech note included with the driver.

Oh, and beware, macOS Ventura has apparently dropped Firewire support. Monterey seems to be the end of the line…

I’ll probably upgrade the audio interface at some point, but if it ain’t broke…

That’s it. My first geeky post (in English) in eons.

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