You probably know by now that Apple iTunes is now available for Windows. Admittedly, only XP and 2000 users get to join in the fun – if you use 95, 98, Me, NT or Server 2003, then you’re seemingly out of luck. But I’m an XP user so I’m okay.
To sum up, here are the pros and cons of the program:
- Looks gorgeous – the main window is only slightly different from the Mac version and with ClearType font smoothing enabled it looks like a dream. Dialogs use proper XP visual styles too, so they look nice.
- Quite intuitive to use
- Built-in crossfader (although longer fade times would be nice – I usually have mine set to 30 seconds whereas iTunes only allows up to 14 secs)
- Will attempt to play all music at the same volume. A very nice touch.
- Sound enhancer looks interesting
- Doesn’t occupy that much disk space.
- CPU and memory usage – while playing in the background it can sometimes demand as much as 33% of the CPU on my machine (which meets the minimum requirements for the application). Constantly needs at least 6MB of memory and typically more like 10MB. Peak memory usage was not far off 40MB.
- Also, it seems to leak memory quite badly.
- No support for Ogg Vorbis. Why not? It’s a free, open, cross-platform format.
- 20MB download – takes at least an hour for us poor souls on dial-up. That could easily be reduced if
BloatShieldInstallShield wasn’t used as the installer and if QuickTime 6.4 wasn’t included – a lot of people already have QuickTime and it could easily be downloaded separately. Without those two it could have been a mere 10MB, if that, by my reckoning.
- Installs a variety of services for CD-RW and iPod support. Great, but I have neither, and they’re only using up memory. What’s worse is that they have to be disabled manually. Also, both iTunes and QuickTime install background helper apps without asking whether I wanted them, and QuickTime magically forgets that I don’t want its helper app whenever I update it.
- Help could be made a bit more accessible, like providing context-sensitive help in dialogs and putting a link on the Start Menu.
- Added: Thanks to Dave’s comment I remembered another few gripes. The first is that you can only resize the window using the handle in the bottom right – you can’t drag any edge of the window like, well, any other Windows program.
- The maximise button doesn’t maximise, it only switches it between ‘full’ and ‘compact’ – if you want to maximise it you have to enlarge it using that annoying handle…
Macs may only have one button-mice (a silly thing in my mind) but most PCs have at least two buttons, usually three and perhaps more. Introducing a context menu would make the program so much more useful.
I am quite impressed at iTunes but I think it has some way to go before I’ll use it in favour of dBpowerAMP, my current favourite. Support for Ogg seems to be quite a glaring omission in both the PC and Mac versions, considering that almost all players now either support it natively or through a plugin.