Apple says OS X sales strong in UK

With hopes pinned on the Unix-based operating system to boost its financial health, Apple is looking rosy after a sell-out first weekend

Apple Computer has sold "almost all" of the UK allocation of its new operating system, OS X, over the weekend, the company said on Monday.

The company did not give exact figures, but said sales had "exceeded expectations". OS X (pronounced "OS ten") has been under development in various forms for several years, and arrives at a time when sales of Apple's popular iMac and other hardware are slowing due to a downturn in the US economy.

The initial release is aimed at the installed base of Macintosh users, and won't be included in new Apple hardware until the summer. Apple has taken some criticism for releasing the operating system before it has support for some essential features, such as writing to DVDs and CDs. The company responded on Monday that it believes enough features are implemented for consumers to have "a positive experience".

Other Mac software and features run on OS X in a special "Classic" mode, and all OS X Macs will be capable of dual-booting between OS X and OS 9.

"There will be a lot of things missing from OS X that people want," admitted an Apple spokesman. "We made a decision to get it out, and we had to get the OS stable before release."

Apple is planning to roll out more features via software downloads during the spring. CD-R support will appear next month, with DVD-R on its way later in the spring.

The compatibility difficulties arise because the new OS is based on Unix, a very stable, multi-tasking system originally developed by Bell Labs in the early 1970s to run its telephone networks. Apple hopes the new functionality will help it expand the reach of the Mac into new areas; for example, Alias Wavefront plans to release its Maya development tool for OS X, a standard application for Hollywood special effects designers.

"In the longer term, we see this as a tremendous opportunity in terms of markets we could expand into," said an Apple spokesman.

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