The first retail copy of Mac OS X will be bought in New Zealand, when the new Unix-based operating system goes on sale worldwide on Saturday, 24 March.

Head of Apple New Zealand, Paul Johnson, plans to exploit New Zealand's time-zone advantage and stage a midnight opening – reminiscent of Microsoft's Windows 95 and 98 launches.

The company already has several hundred back-orders for the product and Johnson says the lucky first punter will be drawn from that list. Apple New Zealand is working on a live stream of the event.

The final version of the £99 software will be kept under wraps until its unveiling by CEO Steve Jobs. There have been a number of changes in response to the 75,000 comments received from Public Beta testers. Apple has already confirmed that native versions such as DVD playback, iTunes and iMovie 2 will be missing from the shipping version, but hopes to have them available for download by release day.