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MacBook Air's Leopard Installer Incompatible With Other Macs, Apple Warns

It's the latest example of how Apple stretched engineering boundaries to produce the new, lightweight laptop.

Apple is warning MacBook Air buyers not to attempt to use software from older Macs to install the sleek new laptop's operating system.

"The Mac OS X 10.5 installation media that shipped with your MacBook Air is designed for use on this computer only," Apple says in a support document posted Tuesday on its Web site. Conversely, the installation media that comes with other Macs can't be used to install 'Leopard' on the MacBook Air.

The MacBook Air lacks and optical drive, so users who need to reinstall Leopard must do so via Apple's external SuperDrive. Like the installer, SuperDrive works only with the MacBook Air.

While the MacBook Air installer's incompatibility with other Macs shouldn't create too big a problem for users -- most systems ship with the OS pre-loaded, after all -- it's the latest example of how Apple stretched engineering boundaries to produce the new, lightweight laptop.

The MacBook Air weighs in at just three pounds -- a feat that required some compromises.

The system's installer may not work with other Macs due to routines required to jam Leopard onto the unique, 64 GB solid state hard drive found in the pricier, $3,000 version of the MacBook Air.

The $1,800 version features a standard, 80 GB hard disk.

In winnowing down the MacBook Air to its uber-thin state, Apple also made a number of other sacrifices. The laptop lack several features that are standard on most portables, such as built in Ethernet connections and optical drives

Still, there's no shortage of buzz around the MacBook Air. Apple bulletin boards on Wednesday were stuffed with messages from posters wondering when they'd be able to get their hands on the new machines.

According to some posts, buyers who pre-ordered systems have begun receiving e-mails indicating that their MacBook Air has been sent out for shipping.

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