To get MacOS X first, head to New Zealand

The first retail copy of Apple Computer Inc.'s next-generation Unix-based MacOS X will be sold in New Zealand.

The new operating system goes on sale worldwide on Saturday, March 24, four and a half years after a beleaguered Apple bought Next Software for $430 million, seeking its NextStep OS. Like NextStep, MacOS X is based on BSD Unix.

Apple has dubbed the foundation of the OS "Darwin" and licensed it for open-source development, augmenting it with a handful of key technologies, including Quartz (a 2D imaging layer using Display PDF), QuickTime and the glossy user interface Aqua, which was unveiled more than a year ago.

Apple New Zealand head Paul Johnson says the company plans to exploit New Zealand's time zone advantage and stage a midnight opening, reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows 95 and 98 launches, at Magnum Mac's Auckland store.

The company already has several hundred back orders for the product, and Johnson says a lucky punter will probably be drawn from that list and invited to make the first purchase. The event may even be streamed live to the internet.

The software will cost $299 in New Zealand ($229 to those who have already bought the MacOS X public beta). In the U.S., it will sell for $129.

There have been a number of changes to MacOS X in response to the 75,000 comments received from public beta testers, but Johnson was unable to demonstrate any of them recently at Apple's local roadshow.

In keeping with Apple practice, the final version will be kept under wraps until it can be unveiled by CEO Steve Jobs.

Apple has already confirmed that native versions of big-ticket items such as DVD playback, the iTunesMP3 player and the consumer video editing application iMovie will be missing from the shipping version, but the company hopes to have them available for download by release day.

This story, "To get MacOS X first, head to New Zealand" was originally published by Computerworld.

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