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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.

18 Responses to “Upcoming Snow Leopard Update Disables Atom Processor Support”

  1. TexasYellowDog

    In the US, the first sale doctrine allows you to do pretty much anything you want with your purchase. An after the sale EULA cannot convert a sale into a license. EULAs have been declared invalid many times in US courts; one of the most recent involves a suit by Autodesk against the resale of AutoCAD.
    Now if Apple gets you to sign (not click) a license before purchase, they would have some say over the matter.

  2. I’ve posted elsewhere about this too, but basically I’m going to wait and see before getting the tar and feathers ready.

    For right now, there isn’t any proof that:
    1. This was deliberate.
    2. This is nothing more then a code optimization that works only on Intel Core family of processors.
    3. This will even be a part of 10.6.2.

    All the blogosphere has is one statement by one OS X hacker that in their own words claims that “Apple has changed around a lot of CPU related information”, and it’s blown up to “OMFG, Apple is killing hackintoshes!!!”

    Besides, Apple has never supported hackintoshes in the first place. They have no responsibility to anyone running the OS on non Apple hardware. If you get it working, great.

  3. Howie Isaacks

    This story is getting so old! Apple should not have to support EVERY hardware configuration. Part of what makes the Mac so great is that Apple is able to custom design the OS and the hardware to work well together. If you want to have a hackintosh, then you need to understand that from time to time, Apple is going to break your compatibility. Complaining about it is stupid. You made the choice. You can live with it.

    • There is a difference between not supporting x hardware and disabling users using x hardware. Though I’m not surprised considering they killed support for PowerPC when snow leopard came out…

  4. If there were a technical reason why Atom processors could not run the software I would be OK with that, but it seems rather Microsoftian to block processors not used in Apple machines.

    I do like the adverts. Some of them stretch the truth a little, but that is no worse than advertising that you can get a burger for $1, and showing some person handing over $1. We all know that it is total BS in states that have sales tax on restaurant foods. Ads such as these are not permitted in places like the UK, because they are considered false advertising.

    Windows 7 looks nice, but it was a PITA to upgrade from Windows XP using the upgrade media that I pre-ordered. If you want to make a completely clean start and not copy your data back to the partition then you have to hack the registry to get it working. Apple could have a field day with that one. To upgrade from XP you have to:

    1. Download and run the advisor
    2. Download and run the easy transfer client to backup data to an external drive
    3. Erase the drive
    4. Install Windows 7 without key or activation
    5. Run the easy transfer client restore data from an external drive
    6. Activate

    If you did not use the easy transfer because you wanted a CLEAN install then you are told that you cannot use the upgrade key. Paul Thurrott on has a work around that requires you hack the Windows 7 installation and fool it in to thinking it is a full version.

    Compare that you Apple who allow you to upgrade to Snow Leopard for $30. True, this is supposed to be from Leopard because they offer a Tiger pack with iLife and iWork, but realistically I do not think they care because they did not implement anything to stop you. I already had Leopard, and am still using leopard because SL broke too many of my apps.

  5. +1 Yes, I think we can all agree that the Windows bashing has gone on for far too long. However I can’t imagine Apple stopping these adverts – their sales information probably suggests that most consumers are switching after viewing these.

  6. I don’t see why Apple would do this, they could simply program some kind of performance disadvantage for hardware falling under an apple-non-proprietary class of drivers… then promote their operating systems as holding a major advantage while running on apple machines. That way, Apple could still make decent sales on their os software, while at the same time encouraging users to shift over to apple on the next computer purchase. Dissing Windows 7 is childish, and should be saved for competing fabric softeners brands, not serious computer business.

  7. Hobbyists will continue to produce hackintoshes, after all, you can’t stop them tinkering around! Unsure whether this will have a profound effect on sales; those who already do this are unlikely to throw in the towel and buy genuine hardware instead.

    @TexasYellowDog – From my understanding, your legal OSX license only permits you to install it on ‘Apple branded hardware’.

  8. TexasYellowDog

    My netbook was installed from a legal family pack dvd. I thought that downloading a hacked distribution of OSX was wrong. If Apple follows through with this, I will no longer have any hesitation to download pirated OSX distribution.

  9. senior analyst

    Apple wants control so they can maximize profits, much like chevy.

    they should just cancel the mac vs pc advertisements and their image will improve from “whiny ‘i make cool video’ bitches” to “a serious computing company.”

    chevy and apple will become very similar in the minds of all people in the near future.