Apple continues to gather respect in new places, with the US PC World magazine yesterday naming several of its products as the Best of 2004.

The company's new operating system, Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, gets OS of the year, with PC World saying: "Panther's sleek interface and reliable performance are impressive. Although we aren't suggesting that you ditch your hardware and buy a Mac, Apple deserves credit for raising the bar for OSes. And we hope Microsoft is paying attention as it works on the next Windows".

Apple's iTunes for Windows gets the coveted "Software Newcomer of the Year" award.

"Apple makes Windows apps about as often as Microsoft ships bug-free products, and if iTunes for Windows is any indication, that's a crying shame," PC World writes.

PC World praises the feature parity between both supported platforms, iTunes' looks and ease-of-use and its integrated Music Store wins praise too.

"Competitors like RealPlayer Music Store made this a tough choice, but it's hard to beat a store that's built into the best media-player software around. We do have one major complaint: iTunes tracks are incompatible with digital audio players other than Apple's own iPod. How selfish!", writes PC World.

Additional highlights: Opera Software's Opera browser is recognized as the "Best Web browser"; Maxtor's One Touch ("Best External Hard Drive); LaCie Data Bank ("Best Ultraportable Drive") and the Canon EOS Digital Rebel ("Best Digital SLR Camera").