Apple could use dedicated chip to limit OSX

Written by Wil Harris

June 13, 2005 | 15:13

Tags: #apple-intel #apple-osx #apple-x86 #osx

Apple could use a dedicated Trusted Platform Module chip to stop OSX being run on non-Macs, according to analysis published today.

As reported on VNUnet, Apple are looking at ways to stop x86 machines running the proprietary Macintosh OSX operating system.

The TPM chip is already being used by PC vendors, but has been extremely controversial because of the fact it can be used to enforce digital rights management in hardware. For instance, licenses for digital content like MP3s can be stored in hardware, preventing any distribution - or, arguably, fair use.

By storing some kind of license key in the TPM module, OSX could be restricted to run solely on Macs featuring this chip.

Of course, the entire situation is based on the premise that the x86 version of OSX will be unhackable. Based on past experience, this is absolutely not going to be the case. Despite Microsoft's years of effort and millions of dollars pumped into copy protection and activation schemes, nothing has stopped hackers and techies getting around the various forms of protection on Windows. There's nothing to suggest that the few lines of code that will make OSX look for the TPM license can't and won't be disabled by enterprising individuals.

Indeed, we'd expect to see self-built enthusiast systems running OSX within a couple of months of the release of the operating system. Of course, the discs for the OS will only come with retail Macs, but there's no way that it won't hit Bit Torrent 24 hours after launch.

What isn't clear is that regardless of whether OSX is locked to Macs, whether Macs will be locked to OSX. Could we have a Mac dual-booting Windows? I don't think it will be too far after launch.
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