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Mac OS X 10.6.2 Will Block Atom Processors 1012

Posted by kdawson
from the caveat-hackor dept.
Archeopteryx writes "According to Wired's 'Gadget Lab' blog, Snow Leopard's next update, OS X 10.6.2, will block the Atom processor and will disable many 'Hackintosh' netbooks. It is indeed true that OS X will run just fine on some netbooks if you install the right drivers and ktexts, but Apple's EULA has always specified that the license was applicable only to Apple hardware. There have always been processor types specified in OS X and that have to be worked around now for those who want to use an Atom or similar non-Apple-adopted processor, so this is likely no more than a hiccup on the road for the OSX86 crowd. But, it raises the question: is it time for Apple to sell a license for non-Apple hardware — priced accordingly of course — for those people who want OS X on platform types Apple has not yet adopted, like the netbook? The only reason OS X is not on my Eee is that I want to comply with the licensing terms. I could just pay for a license to use it."
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Mac OS X 10.6.2 Will Block Atom Processors

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  • Apple's target market aren't going to put up with the kinds of shenanigans it takes to get a hackintosh running, whether or not they pull this kind of stuff.

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ty (15982) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:15PM (#29957206)

    Apple learned it's lesson in the 90's when it licensed MacOS. While the hope was that the licensees would expand MacOS market share, it instead only whittled away at Apple's own market share. I was an example myself - I have a PowerComputing system lying around somewhere - and it was a sale that would have gone to Apple were they not in existence.

    Additionally, as long as Jobs is at the helm, this will never happen. He's made it very clear that Apple doesn't sell hardware or software, but rather the full experience provided by very good integration between the two.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr2001 (90979) on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:21PM (#29957294) Homepage Journal

      Apple learned it's lesson in the 90's when it licensed MacOS. While the hope was that the licensees would expand MacOS market share, it instead only whittled away at Apple's own market share. I was an example myself - I have a PowerComputing system lying around somewhere - and it was a sale that would have gone to Apple were they not in existence.

      So, in other words, Apple wasn't charging enough for MacOS licenses, and they guessed wrong about how willing customers would be to keep buying Apple branded hardware.

      Why does this doom future OS licensing? Why can't they just charge enough for the OS X license so that they'll stay profitable if it turns out people only want the software?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ty (15982)

        What happened in the 90's would imply that the potential market for currently non-Apple users who want to run MacOS on non-Apple hardware is smaller than the pool of current Apple users who would switch to other hardware if provided an easy route. That means loss of market share in their own market.

        I'd wager to say that it's probably not much different now.

        • 1) Charge more for software licenses. Seriously, if you are going to not make as much on hardware, make more on software. They could double their price and still be under what Windows runs retail. Also, software sales are where the real money is at, if you can get a large market. Cost per item is almost zero.

          2) Offer more hardware that people want. Seems to me that the hackintosh computers you see are in the two markets that Apple steadfastly refuses to produce in: Consumer towers and netbooks. These also h

          • by mejogid (1575619) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:55PM (#29958506)

            You seem to have quite an optimistic view on the benefits of software licensing. While I do think the consumer would benefit from a more open OS X licensing model, I'm not sure Apple would benefit:

            1) If Apple enters an all software market, they lose a major selling point of their hardware and enter an area with more competition and a lower barrier to entry (see: Linux). OEM licensing could potentially be more profitable, but I'm unconvinced that the market for OS X is much bigger than the market for Macs - users, particularly businesses, are often held back by software requirements rather than by the price premium.

            2) Apple likes dictating what hardware you purchase - cheaper, more standard tower blocks don't fit with its image as being refined and premium, and the netbook market has far lower margins than they currently reap on MacBooks. One MacBook purchaser could well bring more profit than 5-mac-netbook purchasers. Apple doesn't want to enter a race to the bottom - they make plenty of money through brands that are seen as higher quality.

            3) Why? It gives them higher margins and it's unclear whether the market share increase would offset that.

            Most importantly, in my opinion:

            4) Apple is so profitable because they have created their own "premium computer" market that is far larger than anything held by Alienware or Dell's Adamo. They do this by creating products that appear relatively unique and are functionally different from competitors' equivalents thanks to unique software, design and minor features (such as battery life on their laptops). Without OS X, a Macbook is just another expensive laptop. There is also some level of positive feedback - unique hardware makes the software appear higher quality, which makes the hardware seem more unique etc - and some of the major selling points depend on hardware-software integration.

            I'm not saying it isn't possible that Apple would benefit from opening up their software, but it's far from being certain.

    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ungulate (146381) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:47PM (#29958416)
      Just because Apple's first attempt to license the OS was unsuccessful doesn't mean that it can't work now, if it were executed properly. Now that Macintoshes run on normal PC hardware, Apple could just expand the range of supported chipsets/hardware and certify systems from major OEMs to be MacOS compatible. The hackintosh community has already done a great deal of work in supporting regular hardware - if you buy the correct parts and download one of the easy-to-install MacOS distros, there's almost zero tinkering to be done. If the hobbyists can make that much progress, Apple could obviously do a much better job. If they could seriously challenge Windows with a strategy like this, I think it could be far more lucrative than the hardware profits they reap from their 10% marketshare.
    • Re:No. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MeNeXT (200840) on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:20PM (#29958792)

      Nice of Jobs to limit his market but that's not what I'm buying. I own a Mac but the Apple experience leaves a lot to be desired and in some cases modified systems preform better at a lower cost than the real thing. Where Apple gets it right it gets it right but when it gets it wrong (iTunes, iPhone as anything but a music phone) it gets it really wrong. One size does not fit all.

    • Re:No. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:59PM (#29959186) Homepage

      Apple learned it's lesson in the 90's when it licensed MacOS. While the hope was that the licensees would expand MacOS market share, it instead only whittled away at Apple's own market share. I was an example myself - I have a PowerComputing system lying around somewhere - and it was a sale that would have gone to Apple were they not in existence.

      The clones didn't expand the Mac market because Apple would not let them. The clone maker's designs had to be approved by Apple. At least some were required to use Apple motherboards. PowerComputing showed at trade shows several models in development that would have taken the Mac to new markets--but they could not get permission from Apple to sell them.

      The net effect of Apple's restrictions was the all the clone makers really were licensed to do was put Macs in different cases.

  • Raises a question? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:25PM (#29957330) Homepage

    But, it raises the question: is it time for Apple to sell a license for non-Apple hardware — priced accordingly of course[...]

    No it doesn't! You did. YOU want that, so YOU asked it. It isn't inherit to the facts. An inherent question would be "If Apple isn't support them Atom, then what chip will they use for [speculated product]?"

    The statement in the summary is equivalent to:

    Today ADM said it will no longer sell soybeans to people with the letter 'R' in their name. That raises the question - shouldn't ADM make soybeans that taste like root beer?

    "Apple stops supporting something it never supported". What a story. Is anyone surprised? In fact, since hackintoshes are almost certainly eating into Apple's hardware sales (maybe not by much, but they must), this is an obvious thing to do. Why maintain support for something you don't use and is probably causing you some financial harm.

    I remember with Apple stopped shipping drivers VESA Local Bus sound cards and the internet went NUTS. Same when Dell stopped shipping PPC drivers with their Xeon servers.

    No, wait, Apple never officially supported those (if they had existed), and Dell didn't tell people they would ship PPC drivers with Xeons, so no one was surprised.

    How dare Apple stop supporting unsupported hardware for people who aren't paying Apple for the software they may have simply stolen?

    Come on. I know people on /. want to be able to put OS X on any computer... but is this really a surprise? This isn't much of a story, it's just another excuse for the licensing/purchasing/monopoly/first-sale debate we have in every Apple article.

    • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday November 02, 2009 @07:40PM (#29957572)

      In fact, since hackintoshes are almost certainly eating into Apple's hardware sales (maybe not by much, but they must), [...]

      Not true.

      Indeed, that the majority of Hackintoshes seem to be for market segments Apple has no presence, or are explicitly refusing user demand, in, then it's hard to see how anyone could argue they "must" be "eating into Apple's hardware sales".

    • by gbarules2999 (1440265) on Tuesday November 03, 2009 @12:04AM (#29960044)
      They blocked hardware - in this case, the Atom processor. That's not the same as "stop the support" of the hardware. They went out of their way to make sure it didn't work. That's different from dropping drivers or support.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kc8apf (89233)

        Prove that they intentionally blocked it. You are assuming that since the new version no longer boots on it, they intentionally blocked it. The more likely case is that they simply removed the support for it.

  • by gordguide (307383) on Monday November 02, 2009 @08:34PM (#29958256)

    Apple is not going to sell the OS by itself. I don't know why this has to even be repeated, but Apple is a hardware company and to sell boxed copies of OSX than ran on generic hardware would simply be shooting themselves in the foot.

    None, of all those who arise Phoenix-like every few months or years, lamenting the state of the OS world they find themselves in, you may notice, wants to buy the Apple hardware to run OSX on. Apparently, the natural conclusion goes right over their heads ... they are not Apple customers.

    They seem to think that paying for a retail copy of OSX would make them Apple customers. They are wrong; that would make them Microsoft customers, because Microsoft is the vendor that uses sales of stand-alone OS's as it's business model. Go buy it; there's a snappy new version out right now, I hear.

    People buy Apple hardware because of the software. This is not by accident, it's not a secret, and it's been going on three decades now. You would think it would sink in at some point.

    Now, for those who get OSX to run on whatever hardware they manage to get it to run on, why the uproar over the Atom? Aren't you guys supposed to be hackers?

    Go hack. Half the fun, (for some all the fun) isn't running the software, it is figuring out how to get the software to do what you want.

    If they're not hackers, but they want a pre-made boxed solution to their own pet OSX on x86 project, I suppose I understand all the whining.

    It's all they know how to contribute to the whole project. Good luck with that.

  • by initialE (758110) on Monday November 02, 2009 @09:20PM (#29958780)

    It was bound to happen the moment Apple moved to the intel platform and started using commodity hardware. What this article is saying is that Apple will not consider a low-cost low-power computer with an Atom inside it. Guess you won't find that option in the next refresh of the mac mini. They're being anal of course, since they're actually adding extra code to lock out that processor series.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday November 02, 2009 @10:20PM (#29959336)

    The summary is misleading. The original source of all this hubbub is http://stellarola.tumblr.com/post/225234492/10-6-2-kills-atom-and-other-news [tumblr.com]. Basically someone noted that a lot of stuff in the kernel has changed so that the Atom processor that developer was using no longer works after the build. They list three work around methods. There is no inside information that this is an intentional attempt to block Atom processors as the summary's wording strongly implies.

    The summary then goes on to speculate about the improbable and impractical wet dream of the writer that Apple should start licensing OS X to generic PC makers, completely ignoring the economic realities involved. You might as well end a summary of an article about MS losing an antitrust case by claiming it raises speculation MS will open source Windows under the GPL.

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