Upcoming Snow Leopard Update Disables Atom Processor Support

Users who are running a hackintoshed netbook with Intel’s (s intc) Atom processor may want to be careful next time an update for Snow Leopard is pushed out. According to OS X Daily, users have found that the latest developer preview of the 10.6.2 update disables support for Atom processors. The processor is used widely in the small and inexpensive netbook category of Windows computers, which are also widely hacked to run Apple’s OS X operating system (s aapl).

Installing OS X on third-party hardware is nothing new. The combination of super low-cost hardware with extreme ease of installation, however, have led many to turn their netbooks into rogue Macs. Apple has rarely been supportive of attempts to hack its hardware and software, as the long cat and mouse game of iPhone jailbreaking and its lawsuit against Mac clone maker Psystar make clear.

This move may be more than just  general animosity towards hackers, however. Instead it may indicate Apple is preparing to compete more directly with netbooks with an upcoming tablet device. Although rumored to be priced in the $700-$800 range, significantly higher than most netbooks, the tablet will compete in the same size space as an extremely portable computing device. Apple may not want people to have a choice between a $700 iTablet and a $300 netbook running OS X.

Disabling support for Atom processors would be an elegant way to nix this competition, as Apple’s tablet device is rumored to run an ARM based processor designed by engineers from Apple acquisition P.A. Semi. In the meantime OS X Daily advises anyone who has hackintoshed a netbook to stick with their current version of Snow Leopard or Leopard until a workaround is discovered.