Mac Clone Possibility Thwarted

Art Studios Entertainment came close to joining a growing list of companies mired in lawsuits with Apple over copyright infringement centered around the installation of Apple's OS X on non-Macintosh hardware. Their newest product, EFI-X USB modules, allow users to boot to any operating system, including OS X, on any Intel-based machine. Their USA distributor, EFI-X USA, recently announced a high-end PC capable of running Mac OS X, potentially allowing consumers to create their own Mac systems. The PC's, named the Millennium series, were targeted for high-end users, offering capabilities similar to high-end Mac systems for less than half the price.

Their announcement was unfortunately blundered, and just hours after the initial release EFI-X USA released a statement that the Millenium project had been pulled. "We certainly don't want to get into a legal battle that's over a couple thousand dollars," an EFI-X USA spokesman said. "Potentially Apple could have a legal issue there. They may not have a legal issue, but with all the money they have they might try to make one."

Apple currently forbids their Operating Systems from running on anything but a Mac.  However, over the course of the past year a growing community of hackers have been busy developing ways of porting it to Intel-based PC's. This recent trend is due largely to Apple's switch from Power PC processors to Intel CPU's, thereby allowing hackers to modify the OS X to run on virtually any Intel-based machine.

This underground community, called OSX86, share their knowledge in a
wiki that details how to get OS X to run on Intel machines. This knowledge-base has allowed companies such as OpenTech, OpeniMac, and Psystar to create and market possible Mac Clones. The companies cannot sell their computers as outright 'Mac Clones', so they are forced to come up with ingenuitive workarounds. One company, OpenTech, sold generic computers with no pre-installed operating system combined with a "how-to" kit on installing the operating system of one's choice. A spokesman for OpenTech stated, "Our legal team has come to the conclusion that we wouldn't be violating any copyright laws or any other laws." Yet in less than a month, OpenTech was forced to shutdown and put itself up for sale. 

However, EFI-X modules take an entirely separate route. The USB module, which has its own dedicated CPU and a chunk of SRAM, allows any PC to run EFI-based operating systems, which includes OS X Leopard. It doesn't use any patched code, or anything related to "Hackintosh" techniques; instead the module takes over the low-level functions of the motherboard, as well as the other onboard hardware. This essentially 'tricks' the computer in believing it has Mac-certified hardware, and allows a genuine copy of any OS X 10.5 to be installed. The modules were not designed solely with Apple's OS in mind, rather the ultimate goal was of "innovation and integration". Their innovation apparently is not cheap, and according to their website:
EFI-X is not for everyone. It is not for who wants to save money, at all. It is for enthusiasts that put expandability and extreme performances before anything else in their computing needs. We heard those voices, and we answered.

According to Davide Rutigliano, CEO of Art Studios Entertainment, the recent EFI-X USA announcement was a great misunderstanding. To be honest it wasn’t intentional of them, but of course when I said that we at ASEM do not condone the merchandizing of clones, I meant it. The press saw the "Millennium" project as a clone project, and I immediately ordered it to be scraped and abandoned. Because we at ASEM do not sell or condone the sale of clones that compete with ANY brand. We have our own clientele and our own small and nice market share, and we are really happy that way.

In any case, the EFI-X modules offer an option for users who are willing to ignore Apple's EULA for entry into the world of Apple, or for anyone who is interested in the other possibilities offered, such as seamless switching between multiple Operating Systems.