Mac enthusiast sites reported Friday that Apple Computer's operating system for Intel-based computers, which is currently in the hands of developers, has both been leaked to the Internet and cracked so that it will run on non-Apple hardware.
In early June, Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs announced that starting in 2006, the company's Macintoshes will be equipped with Intel microprocessors rather than the current PowerPC chips produced by IBM.
Although Apple has been vague about whether other operating systems -- such as Microsoft's Windows -- will run on the new hardware (it has, however, said it will not sell or support other OSes), it was adamant about preventing its own Mac OS X from running on non-Apple computers.
That may be more difficult than Apple thought.
Several sites reported this week that crackers had managed to install the developer-issued version of Mac OS X for Intel on non-Apple machines, including Dell laptops. One site has posted video purportedly of Mac OS X booting on a non-Apple-approved Intel-based PC.
Another site, dubbed OSx86 Project and dedicated to the new OS from Apple, noted that OS X for Intel can be installed under VMware's virtual machine software, and that a disk image of the OS has been posted on several BitTorrent sites.
The crack supposedly bypasses Intel's Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip that was intended to prevent the operating system from running on non-Apple boxes. The digital rights management chip, which is supported in the new Mac OS's kernel, is Apple's attempt to tie the operating system to its own hardware; Mac OS X for Intel shouldn't install to PCs without the TPM chip.
Apple did not immediately return a call asking for comment.