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The Mac App Store is almost here, and that can mean only one thing: The end of the Mac OS X Downloads page on Apple’s website. Rest in peace, little Downloads page, and enjoy your trip to that big website in the sky.
Apple announced back in late December that they would be closing the doors on their Mac OS X Download site effective January 6, 2011 -- that, of course, being the grand opening of the new Mac App Store, which is the company’s effort to carry over the success of the iOS App Store launched in July, 2008 onto the Mac platform.
Back on December 20, Apple’s Vice President of Worldwide Developer Relations Ron Okamoto essentially wrote a eulogy for the Downloads site at the same time as he pressed for developers to embrace the new Mac App Store.
“Because we believe the Mac App Store will be the best destination for users to discover, purchase, and download your apps, we will no longer offer apps on the Mac OS X Downloads site,” Okamoto announced to Mac developers. “Instead, beginning January 6, we will be directing users to explore the range of apps available on the Mac App Store.
“We appreciate your support of the Mac platform and hope you'll take advantage of this new opportunity to showcase your apps to even more users,” Okamoto concluded.
Of course, the reality is that not every Mac application can be part of the Mac App Store -- for example, apps that make extensive use of Mac OS X frameworks or require customized installers will continue to be made available direct from developers’ websites, since Apple has placed restrictions on Mac apps similar to those imposed on iOS.
That aside, Apple’s Mac OS X Downloads site was a convenient one-stop shop for many Mac owners to discover new applications in a variety of different categories, ranging from Audio to Drivers to Games and System/Disk Utilities, as well as specific categories for many Apple software packages such as Aperture, Final Cut Studio and iPod + iTunes.
Perhaps the most widely used areas of the Mac OS X Downloads site was for Dashboard widgets and Automator Actions, and it’s not clear just yet if Apple will make virtual shelf space for those in the Mac App Store or not. We’re guessing the answer will be yes, and we’ll let you know for sure when we take a first look at the Mac App Store on Thursday.
In the meantime, head over to Apple’s Mac OS X Downloads site and poke around a bit -- after all, come Thursday it will go down in Apple history alongside the Power Mac G4 Cube, .Mac and the Newton as great ideas that ultimately got rolled into even better ideas over time. R.I.P., Mac OS X Downloads site… we hardly knew ya!
Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter