US chain breaks Mac OS X embargo

While Auckland's Magnum Mac prepares to sell the first official retail copy of MacOS X at midnight tonight, the US office supplies chain Staples may have incurred the wrath of Steve Jobs by jumping the gun.

          Apple Computer's Mac OS X operating system will go on sale on Saturday, March 24, according to Apple, but Staples office supply stores all across the US were already selling the software on Wednesday.

          In New Zealand, Magnum Mac's Auckland branch will be open from 11.30pm for pre-ordering and entry to the draw to become the first - official - buyer of the new OS. The lucky punter will then be presented with a copy by Shortland Street star Rebecca Hobbs. MacOS X will costs $299 plus GST.

          Mac OS X is Apple's most major revision to its flagship operating system, one on which the company is betting a good deal of its future. OS X will provide Mac users with a host of modern operating system features, such as protected memory, multitasking and a spiffy new graphical user interface.

          Apple has been building to a worldwide release on March 24, but a number of Staples have jumped the gun and begun selling the software. Stores in Needham and Burlington, Massachusetts, Canton, Ohio, and Olympia, Washington all said they had the software in stock and that it was available today. Readers at the Macintosh news Web site, where the news first surfaced earlier in the day, also said they bought Mac OS X at stores in Columbus, Ohio, Phoenix and Pittsburgh. A Staples in Ithaca, New York reported no stock of the OS at all.

          Apple co-founder and chief executive officer Steve Jobs is notorious for his temper when it comes to Apple partners jumping the gun on important Apple events. At New York's MacWorld Expo in August, Jobs reportedly removed graphics card maker ATI Technologies Inc. from his keynote speech because ATI had inadvertently tipped the press off to the new products announcement Apple was to make at the show.

          Some readers report that Mac OS X is being displayed on Staples shelves, though some Staples employees interviewed Wednesday indicated that the software had only just arrived at their stores and was not yet on the floor. However, when asked if the software was available for purchase, they said it was.

          So, it seems, Apple fans eager to get their hands on the OS need only ask the right Staples salesperson to become the first on their block with Mac OS X.

          Apple was not immediately available for comment.

          Apple, in Cupertino, California, can be reached at +1-408-996-1010 or at

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