Dvorak: Apple's Trusted Platform Module is 'a Twisted Scheme'

John Dvorakis latest column for PC Magazine tackles the recent news that the Intel-based Mac hardware Apple has provided to developers contains a trusted platform module (TPM) that keeps Mac OS X from being installed on garden variety PC boxes. Dvorak says that "nobody in their right mind wants to be locked down by trusted-computed anything" and then asks "But what if the whole idea is a scam--a twisted scheme?"

Mr. Dvorak then envisions a publicity stunt hatched by Appleis marketing department, which he writes "is brain-dead" if the company really wants to lock down the Intel hardware. Starting with the premise that the ability to install Mac OS X on any Intel-based hardware "would increase interest amongst developers, which should boost overall sales," he believes Apple will "play its cards close to the vest" because "who needs to let freaky Microsoft get freaky on them?"

The columnist sees the TPM being easily hacked, but on purpose. "Soon the crack is on the Net, and with or without a hardware bypass, the code is shown working on a Dell. Apple protests and threatens to sue anyone caught running the code. This results in all sorts of publicity, as the average user wants to know what all the fuss is about."

Mr. Dvorak compares such a situation to the one Napster saw in its early days, when he says it "went from a few thousand users to a few million users overnight during the icrackdown.i" He sees Apple CEO Steve Jobs giving up on the lawsuit angle, noting that "There was nothing we could do. This is the OS that people apparently want and need."

However, Mr. Dvorak says, "in the wings is waiting a shrink-wrapped upgrade that works perfectly on older machines. A public announcement comes. iIt works on machines that Microsoft Vista wonit run on!i says Jobs. The crowd goes wild. And itis priced below Microsoft Vista. It turned out that the hacked OS-X86 that Steve was so angered by was actually the beta test for the rollout of the commercial product."