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Happy new year: have a Mac App Store

January 6th might seem like just another grey post-holiday day, as you drag yourself into work and ponder your massive Christmas-related overdraft. But it is, in fact, a special day: it's Epiphany, supposedly the anniversary of the wise men arriving in Bethlehem to worship Jesus. In the UK, that just means it's when you have to take your Christmas decorations down, but in some countries it's the main event of Christmas complete with presents and feast.

So what, you ask? Well, we just wanted to be festive. But January 6th 2011 will be special for another reason: the launch of the Mac App Store.

Yes! Unveiled just a few weeks ago at Apple's big 'Back to the Mac' event, the Mac App Store will bring the simplicity of buying and upgrading software that we've gotten used to on the iPhone to the desktop. (It'll also, conveniently enough, let Apple skim 30% of the price of any software you buy.)

Some think it's an important step in making computers easier to use; others think it's a depressing step towards more closed systems, though - unlike on the iPhone - you'll still be able to install software from outside the Store. Probably its main purpose will be that people install a lot more simple, free or cheap little apps that previously would have been too much hassle to find - including, we suspect, games. Either way, Microsoft are believed to be developing an App Store for Windows, so it's an idea whose time has come.

So on January 6th, take down the tinsel, spare a thought for your friends in Spain who've only just got their Christmas presents - and enjoy poking around the Mac App Store. But before you buy anything, you might want to check it's not easier to buy it direct from the makers...

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