After the recent seed of OS X for Intel version 10.4.2 (build 8B1072) to Apple ADC members, we've received confirmed today reports that Apple has seeded a new update, available through the "Software Update" system. Known as 10.4.2 build 8B1072A, this new version fixes graphics and performance issues and is purported to prevent current workarounds for running the system. Weighing in at 26.6MB, this update is quite small, but provides radical changes.
After much speculation has been tossed around as to how Apple would lockdown their new Intel operating system, perhaps we have found the answer. Many popular blogs and websites have begun to think that Apple may, in fact, be using the community of enthusiasts to find the bugs in their new OS and crush them, leaving a truly user tested final product which is almost uncrackable. When looking at Apple's track record, it would almost seem ludicrous, why would the company for the people use the people as a tool? Well, it's a few elements working together. Most importantly, Apple isn't for the people. Apple is for the cash. As it's been said before, Apple IS a hardware company, and until they change their focus (not something to be ruled out), they will still make their cash selling you iBooks and PowerMacs. It's a simple fact of life. Any company which doesn't watch out for profits will die.
Most interesting, however, is the method this update was delivered. Ponder this: Apple adds support for new features and fixes security flaws, seeding these updates through Software Update. However, these updates also lock out any cracks and holes that have recently been discovered. Sounds like a good deal right? Just don't update. Except for one problem. Imagine that Apple then strongly "advises" publishers to only allow their software to work with these updated versions. Suddenly users without updates are locked out.
While this may seem like a smart measure to prevent piracy, let’s look at the whole picture. Many Apple users love their legacy hardware and Apple famously supports them past their death date. Look at the number of computers still running 10.3, 10.2, or even 10.1 and 10.0, simply because they can't handle the latest updates. Although these are major revisions, which, of course, have some incompatibilities, imagine this process compressed to the point where a single update stops you from running that latest programs. Perhaps this update breaks something in your hardware as Apple phases out support, perhaps it just has a new bug, either way, it could spell trouble.
At this point I think many Apple fanboys put too much trust in Apple. Yes, they could do it right and only break compatibility between major revisions, yes, they could debug the updates incredibly well and keep out all but the smallest bugs. But Apple is really out there to make money. Can we really trust that? Maybe Apple isn't God's gift to the geek, but then again, do we really need one? Perhaps we should love the product and not the company, because the two just don't go hand in hand.