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Snow Leopard Update Steamrolls Atom Support

Netbook owners who have hacked their machines to run Snow Leopard in violation of Apple's rules would be well advised to avoid downloading the new OS X 10.6.2 update.


According to Stell's Blog, a popular source for Hackintosh information, the 10.6.2 update is causing Atom-based netbooks to enter an instant reboot loop after it's installed, rendering the machines unusable. "My sources tell me that every time a netbook user installs 10.6.2 an Apple employee gets their wings," Stell wrote in a blog post.

Given the total control that Apple exerts over its hardware and software, its move to block Atom support isn't surprising. Apple has a long track record of disabling hacks through updates, and the Apple user community has just as long a track record of developing new workarounds.

Hackintoshes give Apple fans a way to fill the netbook gap that exists in Apple's product portfolio, but that gap isn't going to remain for very long. Some solution providers interpret the move as a sign that Apple is ready to enter the market with a long rumored tablet device.

"There is no other logical reason why Apple would do this unless they're going to enter this space with some sort of tablet-type device," said Shane Spiess, president of Portland, Ore.-based Apple reseller MacForce.

Although configuring a Hackintosh requires a moderate degree of technical skill, Apple may have decided that the Hackintosh community has grown too large to ignore, said Michael Oh, founder and president of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple reseller. "Clearly, if you stick your head up a little too high, Apple will come after you," Oh said.

However, Hackintosh users can't say Apple didn't warn them of the consequences of installing the 10.6.2 update. In the update's support notes, Apple offers the following advice:

"You may experience unexpected results if you have third-party system software modications installed, or if you've modied the operating system through other means. (This does not apply to normal application software installation.)"

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