One of the side-effects of Apple’s move to Intel processors is that the Mac Operating System can now – theoretically – work on the same hardware as Windows.
Naturally, Apple has put a few preventative measures in place to stop hackers unscrewing the Mac OS from Intel-powered, Apple-branded hardware – such as the new iMac – and loading it onto generic PC boxes. In keeping with the company’s ‘Think Different’ slogan, these measures include a poem embedded in deep in the system software. Recently uncovered by hackers, it reads:
"Your karma check for today:
There once was a user that whined
His existing OS was so blind
He'd do better to pirate
An OS that ran great
But found his hardware declined.
Please don't steal Mac OS!
Really, that's way uncool.
(C) Apple Computer, Inc."
We’ll ignore the stilted scansion and painful rhymes (“pirate” and “ran great”?!), and give Apple a gold star for originality. But before you start feeling too warm inside, be warned.
As well as being famed for thinking differently, Apple is also renowned for being litigious. From suing Microsoft in 1985 for copying the Mac OS to suing fan site thinksecret.com for revealing details of the Mac Mini, Apple’s lawyers have been busy over the last two decades – and now they’re rolling up their sleeves again.
According to the Washington Post, Apple’s legal eagles have just forced two hacker sites to close down because they featured links to sites that explained how to hack the Intel version of Mac OS to run on PCs.
To be fair, Apple makes most of its money from selling hardware – if cut-price PCs can run the Mac OS, why would people buy an iMac? (“Because it looks nice” would convince us, but not everyone.)
But at least it would convince Windows users to switch to Mac, right? Not necessarily. One of the big selling points of the Mac OS is that it doesn’t suffer from viruses and malware that afflict Windows. But last week, an instant messaging Trojan, masquerading as a screenshot of forthcoming Mac software, became the first malicious application to target Mac OS X.
With the iPod ‘halo effect’ driving sales of Macs, Apple is no longer seen as the underdog – and is therefore a legitimate target for some hackers. Time will tell whether poetry – and more prosaic remedies – will be enough to ensure the halo stays in place.