Update: It looks like this was a false alarm. A new developer build of OS X 10.6.2 brings back support for Atom processors.

Over the past two years pretty much every major PC maker with the exception of Apple has released a netbook. Most of them use Intel Atom processors. And you know what? It turns out it’s actually not that difficult to install Apple’s OS X operating system on most of those Atom-powered netbooks. The folks at Boing Boing even maintain a chart showing which netbooks are most compatible with the operating system.

But it looks like that could be about to change, because there are reports that OS X 10.6.2 will feature a number of changes in the way the operating system interacts with the CPU — and one effect is that the new version of OS X will not work with machines using Intel Atom processors.

It’s not clear whether this is an intentional move by Apple to discourage people from installing OS X on netbooks or if it’s just a side effect related to other changes. OS X 10.6.2 isn’t officially available yet, but it’s in the hands of some developers already, and according to StellaRolla, netbook hackintoshers may want to stick with version 10.6.1 when the update is available. If you’re using OS X Leopard 10.5.8, there’s  a goo change you’ll want to hold off on updating to 10.5.9 when that update is out, as it’s likely to have problems as well.

Of course, the OSx86 community is full of hackers with bright ideas, so this may just be a temporary roadbump for hackintosh netbook enthusiasts. But it’s too early to say for sure.

via Engadget and OS X Daily

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6 replies on “Rumor: OS X update kills Intel Atom compatibility”

  1. If apple followed microsoft and how they let any machine use its software, they would have more then just what is it now 10% of the market. Hell, I am betting it would be a 50/50 windows-mac world.

  2. And if so….. Apple AGAIN breaks the Copyright Misuse Doctrine by sabotaging code to exclusively run with 1 vendor’s hardware.

    Feds? Why does one company get to break the law while you enforce this on others?!

    1. This is not necessarily a situation like that. The atom is a very limited, 32-bit CPU which lacks many of the instruction sets of modern CPUs. If Apple updated their OS to take advantage of these modern features, it could break compatibility with the low-end atom (which Apple has never used and therefore doesn’t care about).

      Now, if the update just looks at what CPU is used and shuts off if it’s an Atom, then you make a valid argument. But if this is an update to improve the OS, and doing so breaks compatibility by necessity, then there is no problem.

      Apple shouldn’t stop people from using their legitimately purchased software however they want, but Apple also does not have to go out of their way to make their software support other systems.

      1. I see your argument but its not that OSX has improved its ability.
        There is no instruction set in OSX that ATOM uses that slows OSX ability. None at all.

        They simply decided to sabbottage code to prohibit installation on specific hardware. This, by definition, is violation of the Copyright Misuse Doctrine.

        They basically have, and continue to do so, with itunes and the Palm pre. And they cant sue Palm, because Palm has every right to use a distributed software. In fact, THAT is probably an even better case for misuse by Apple.

        Though Apple has not gone out of their way to support other systems, they HAVE gone out of their way to block ther systems.

        Their specific use of the EFI chip for installation sabotage is yet another example. They actually admitted that there is sabotage code in the installation to prohibit others use. Not to improve quality but to restrict competition. And no, when the OS is sold separately, and when purposely locking down that sale to 1 vendors use, (even their own), is illegal.

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