A boxed retail version of .Mac is available now in the UK through the Apple Store and from Apple's UK reseller network.

The boxed version of the product costs £79. The previously available US product was priced at $99.95 (about £63). Apple explains the difference as added VAT (at 17.5 per cent VAT takes the £63 to a total £74) and "currency differences" (the remaining £5 difference).

The $99 does not include local US taxes, but until now Apple hasn't charged international customers any tax on .Mac. Apple has not yet explained whether renewal costs for existing UK .Mac customers will be $99 or £79.

For the money, customers gain a year's access to the company's suite of online services, including HomePage. .Mac Mail, iDisk, Backup, Virex. They also get access to members-only Web support, special offers and occasional free software downloads.

Apple has also developed features in other products that can be enabled by .Mac membership, including the ability to use iSync to create a back-up Address Book on .Mac and a place to publish iCal calendars. Apple is expected to extend .Mac features as the service matures.

Macworld Online readers can sample the .Mac service for 60-days for free. Click here for details.