Apple has raised the required system specifications for Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard - and has begun testing technology that will enable the delivery of updates to third party software using Software Update.

The latter feature has been a fabled mission for Cupertino since Mac OS X first shipped, but the company has been unable to complete on that mission.

This seems set to change.

The latest version of the pre-release build of the OS requires developers to download the latest HP drivers using the Software Update feature.

An HP representative told MacNN the reason for the independent download is to test out the notion of third party downloads through Software Update.

"Although listed in Apple’s last developer Leopard Seed Note as an 'Issue', the recommendation to use Apple’s software update process to install the HP driver set for the Leopard developer seed is actually a test scenario, not a driver problem or bug issue," the representative said.

The representative also confirmed that the update mechanism will not update these HP drivers unless a printer from the company is connected to the Mac, or the Print Driver has an HP printer enabled.

In related news, the same site reports that Mac users will require an Intel processor or a PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) or G5 processor in order to install and run Mac OS X 10.5.