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Apple Posts Fix For MacBook Sudden Shutdowns

Apple released a firmware update and recommends all users install it, after hundreds of users reported sudden shutdowns, without warning, to their MacBooks and had to ship the computers to Apple for repair.

Apple Computer Inc. on Thursday released a firmware update for its MacBook line that it claimed fixes the sudden shutdown problem hundreds of owners have recently reported.

The update, said Apple in the alert accompanying the download, "improves the MacBook's internal monitoring system and addresses issues with unexpected shutdowns." Apple recommended that all MacBook users apply the firmware update, even those whose notebooks had previously been repaired under warranty.

Although Apple had earlier acknowledged the shutdown problem -- dubbed "RSS" for "Random Sudden Shutdown" by wags -- prior to Thursday its advice was for customers to return their MacBooks to Apple for repair. The wait, however, stretched into weeks, and stretched Mac users' patience; last week some began organizing a class-action lawsuit against the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer maker.

Some users who have already applied the update reported success on Friday. "tonight installed the patch. no shutdowns yet! and i'm running at full capacity and have been opening and shutting the lid like mad," wrote a user identified as "david" on the MacBook Random Shutdown Web site.

Others, however, remained skeptical. The firmware update, they argued, wouldn't go any good if, as many have speculated, the problem was due to faulty heat sinks and a resulting melting of internal wiring. "As an Apple Tech, I can confirm that this is simply ignoring a bigger issue," wrote " RainRacer" on the site. "I have seen first hand dozens and dozens of MacBooks with the thermal sensor wires melted to the side of the heatsink. Though this may be a nice temporary fix to get people up and running, I really hope that Apple is not encouraging this as true fix."

The firmware update can be downloaded from the Apple support site; users running Mac OS X 10.4.6 or earlier must update to 10.4.8 before applying the update.

"If you continue to experience trouble with your MacBook after applying both updates or if your MacBook is in a state that will not allow you to install the updates please contact AppleCare for further assistance," Apple said in the firmware alert.

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