Apple is releasing updates for software crucial to its "digital hub" strategy, yet still its international customer base - which accounts for over 50 per cent of its sales - faces long waits for core needs.

Partially, such delays are attributable to the development effort being made to get Mac OS X ready for its release on March 24. It is to be hoped that once Mac OS X is released the updates delay will be minimized.

Despite promising that moving non-US operating systems to International English would accelerate its delivery of software updates to its customer base, Apple continues to lag when it comes to shipping International-English versions of system components.

Industry sources hint that key upgrades will be released "soon", and that international-language system component development is scheduled and important to Apple.

International wait This week Apple posted Disc Burner 1.01, an update to the software that enables users to burn data CDs on Macs equipped with internal CD writers. The update supports some third-party CD-R/RW drives, including those form LaCie, Sony and Plextor. The update is currently only available for US-English systems.

Apple's iTunes has been downloaded 750,000 times since its announcement at Macworld Expo, San Francisco in January. The application has since been updated to version 1.1, and, like Disc Burner, now supports some external CD-R/RW drives. iTunes 1.0 remains unavailable to International-English users, as Apple consistently warns its customers that installation of components from other language Mac OS's can cause "system degradation". iTunes for the International-English OS was originally scheduled for release in February.

The best information so far gathered by Macworld's news team hints that iTunes IE will be made available early this month.