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Monday, November 02, 2009, 04:45 am PT (07:45 am ET)

Apple rumored to disable Atom support with Mac OS X 10.6.2

Mac OS X 10.6.2, the forthcoming update for Apple's Snow Leopard operating system, is reported to disable support for the Intel Atom processor, preventing unauthorized PC netbooks from running the operating system.

Users at OS X Daily claim that Mac OS X 10.6.2 prevents Snow Leopard from running on systems with Atom processors. No official Apple products use the low-cost, low-power chip from Intel. For now, users on unauthorized Atom machines are recommended to stay with Mac OS X 10.6.1.

"You can't help but suspect this move is Apple's attempt at shutting down the growing and popular Hackintosh Netbook community, since Apple has no product line that runs the Atom itself," the report said. "Mac OS X runs absolutely flawlessly on much of the PC Netbook hardware, once it's configured you wouldn"t know you’re not on a Mac. Maybe it’s in effort to kill the Atom Hackintoh Netbooks in anticipation of the rumored Tablet? Or maybe it’s something totally unrelated?"

The news is another example of Apple fending off systems with unauthorized installs of Mac OS X. Florida-based clone Mac maker Psystar has been engaged in a lawsuit with Apple for some time, as the Cupertino, Calif., company has alleged that Psystar's selling of systems with Mac OS X is in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Starting in October, Psystar began selling a $50 software hack to allow users to install Snow Leopard on some Intel-powered unauthorized PCs. The Rebel EFI software provided support for Intel Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, i7 or Xeon Nehalem processors.

In the non-commercial world of "Hackintosh" systems, some users were able to install Snow Leopard on inexpensive netbook computers, like the Dell Mini 10v. Launched in 2008, the Intel Atom processor is intended for sub-notebooks and ultra-mobile PCs.

Last year, one high-ranking Intel executive publicly vouched for the Atom processor to be used on Apple's long-rumored tablet device. The 10-inch touchscreen device, expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2010, is believed to originally be intended to run on the Atom processor upon conception. But after the $278 million buyout of fabless chip designer P.A. Semi, it is believed that Apple began to design its own ARM-based processors and abandoned the Atom.

Mac OS X 10.6.2, the forthcoming update for Snow Leopard, will update nearly 150 components of the operating system. The latest beta, released last week, addressed issues with the Dock, ColorSync, QuartzCore and graphic driver components.