The Mac App Store officially launched today as promised, at around 5:30 a.m. Pacific time. Users can gain access to the new OS X software distribution platform by downloading and installing the Mac OS X 10.6.6 update, available either through Software Update or direct from Apple’s website (a combo updater should be available from Apple Support soon).

The new Mac App Store launches with more than 1,000 software titles already in its library, including software from Apple’s own iWork and iLife suites, and from major Mac software vendors like AutoDesk, Omni Group and others. iPhone App Store users will also recognize titles like Flight Control HD and The Incident from the mobile storefront.

Once you’ve installed the Mac OS X 10.6.6 update, the Mac App Store icon should automatically appear in your dock next to the Finder. As with the iOS App Store, you purchase software using your iTunes ID and password, and they are then downloaded and installed automatically. Charts are carried over from the iOS version, too, including Top Paid, Free and Grossing apps for the whole store and for individual categories.

We’ll be featuring ongoing coverage all day. Many early users are reporting problems with downloading apps, probably due to server congestion at Apple, so be patient. Go get it now and let us know what you think.

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