New art assets indicate that Valve is looking to bring its Steam game distribution network to Macs.  (Source: Steam User Forums)
Mac owners have a lot of new software to play with

One criticism that the OS X platform has received is its lack of software options.  Granted, it has all the essentials -- two major browsers (Safari and Firefox), two primary office suites (Microsoft Office for Mac and Apple's iWork), and a fair share of music programs. Still, the diversity of PC software is largely absent.

That looks like it's starting to change thanks to Apple's growing marketshare.  Norwegian browser maker Opera just unleashed a beta build of Opera 10.5 for Mac.  It can be downloaded from here.  OS X 10.4 (Tiger) users on Intel systems who were previously left unsupported by Opera now can use the beta as well.  The beta is packed with a new javascript engine, a refined version of Opera's TurboBoost compression technology (for metered or slow connections), and leading web standards support.

However, Opera is not the only new browser to land on the Mac.  Google Chrome beta for Mac aired in December and has since been steadily rising in use among OS X users.  A test build of Chrome 5 was also recently made available to Mac users, and can be found here.  It should be noted, though, that Chrome does NOT support OS X 10.4.

Yet another good piece of software news for Mac owners is that it looks like Valve's Steam game distribution network, which has been hailed as "the iTunes of gaming", will soon land on Macs.  Recent builds of Steam have shown assets labeled "OS X".  

Despite the fact that Apple's operating is much maligned as being "unable to play games", there are a handful of major titles available for it -- albeit much less than for the PC.  Among the major releases available on Macs are
Dragon Age, Bioshock, EVE Online, Star Trek DAC, Civilization IV, Sims 3, Star Wars Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition, SPORE, Star Wars: KOTOR, and Doom 3.  A full list is available here.

Apple's future computer sales growth may rest largely on whether it can sufficiently refresh its notebook hardware which is currently trailing PC models that retail at half the cost.  Expect a refresh in the short term.  If it can provide a compelling enough hardware package, the trend of software ports to OS X is likely to continue to grow.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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