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apple_mac_store_iconAs promised in December, Apple finally opened up its new Mac App Store, but Mac users will be forced to upgrade their machines to access it.

Those with Snow Leopard will need to perform an upgrade first before being able to visit the store. The store comes with the latest update (OS X v10.6.6) and users will be able to browse and download over 1,000 apps in the new marketplace accessible from the Apple menu in the top left hand corner of most Macs.

The apps cover various categories including business, games, productivity, social networking and utilities.

“With more than 1,000 apps, the Mac App Store is off to a great start,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive (CEO).

“We think users are going to love this innovative new way to discover and buy their favorite apps.”

As with the iPhone apps store, developers get 70 per cent of revenues with Apple taking the rest.

However users of versions of OS X below Snow Leopard (10.5 and below) will not be able to access the store until they buy the latest upgrade for their machines. For some this means that a new machine will have to be bought as the store only caters for Intel-based machines.