The first UK launch event for Mac OS X began at 11pm Friday, 23 March at resellers Micro Anvika on London's Tottenham Court Road.

"I need it! Let me in! I have to have it!", yelled a loyal Macolyte as he hammered at the door of the wrong Micro Anvika store on London's Tottenham Court Road.

His sentiments were shared by hundreds of Macintosh-users who found the correct location for the launch.

Fabio De Rosa, a freelance graphic designer, said: "I had to be here. It's an historic moment. I eat, breathe and sleep Mac."

Great expectations The event took place on two packed floors. Upstairs, Mark Rogers, managing director of Apple UK, introduced the OS, saying: "I'm sure you are all here to see the OS X, not me."

Hundreds of Apple fans stared open-mouthed in a library hush at a selection of video screens, while Apple's Stuart Harris took them on a point-by-point tour of OS X. Later, many of the Mac faithful shared their opinions.

"Graphically, it's very good. Speedwise it's not as good as promised, but we've not seen the full version in action yet", said Rory Bergin of architects firm, HTA. "This release isn't the final thing - the real thing will happen in three or four months when the applications come through", he continued.

Applications remain crucial. Harmish Patel, head of design at Entranet, said: "The concern has to be its adoption by the market, and how many applications will be written for it."

A wonderful life James Stewart, a designer at BBC Online, observed: "My only concern is that they establish an easy upgrade path for the applications we've been using for years. Will users be expected to buy OS X-compatible versions of these at full price? Or will there be an upgrade path for them?"

Simon Smith, Micro Anvika's Macintosh manager, told Macworld: "I think OS X's features are great, it's very easy to use. It will be excellent for first-time buyers, but has so much to offer to advanced users. It's the applications we are waiting for."

Gary Young, Micro Anvika's director of purchasing, observed: "As a reseller I expect an upgrade/migration path for existing users of applications." His message to Apple's customers was simple: "You are not going to get fleeced," he said.

The event exceeded everyone's expectations. "We expected 100 or so people," said a security guard at the door of Micro Anvika's slickly-designed shop. "We've seen 400 to 500 visitors during the night," he confirmed.

Apple PR manager, David Millar, said: "We expected a good turnout, and everyone I've been talking to has been a professional designer, Web animator or programmer. We have an audience of professionals here," he said.

Bigger and better Young said: "As far as Micro Anvika is concerned, this is the biggest launch of anything we have ever done and is bigger than we expected."

Micro Anvika sold 208 copies of Mac OS X by 1am. It was the calm before the storm, as Saturday's trading saw a further 350 sales - not including pre-orders, Young confirmed yesterday.

There was a tangible buzz of excitement during the whole event. Michael Ebanks of Splash New Media summed up what the world expects from the new OS: "This could be as big as 1984 when the original Macintosh was launched, perhaps even bigger."

Millar confirmed the importance of the OS to Apple: "This is a major release. From a design point of view it's really interesting. This is a really big thing for the company and it goes all the way back to 1984."

International audience Thomas Kaldhol, Amund Witter, Oystein Huorthaug and Lars Grondahl deserve honourable mention. They had travelled to London from Oslo just for the event to pick up and test the new OS for their Web design company INN.

BBC Online's Stewart talked about the support Apple has for its launch: "Mac OS X has got everything I need. Though the BBC isn't all Mac, all the BBC Online people stand behind it."

Patel looked at what power users look forward to from the new OS: "We hope for a much cleaner environment to work within. We look forward to being able to do everything from one workstation."

Another user, Matthew White said: "I'm so very impressed by the Unix core of OS X."

OS X is a new beginning. It could revolutionize the fortunes of the company, or destroy its future forever. It has support from users and resellers, and is attracting very positive reports from respected newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal. Apple expects to see 3,100 applications built for OS X on release by July. Macromedia CEO Rob Burgess calls it "a real human interface".

Apple PR Millar agreed: "It's the beginning of a new story, not a new chapter."

Eleven-year-old new Apple convert, Hinal, was enthusiastic about the Flower Power iMac: "I really want a flowery iMac because they are for girls and they would match my room."