Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

iTunes reaction

Ars Technica has a good article summing up the pros and cons of iTunes for Windows, and I agree with almost everything it has to say.
What annoys me is that Apple decided to effectively reinvent the wheel when it came to supporting CD-RWs and the iPod. Windows has built-in support for many CD burners, and most people with burners will have Nero, Easy CD Creator or some other ASPI-compatible CD writing program – why couldn’t it use that? It’s already there, it works, and doesn’t crash Windows 2000 when you try to boot up.
Similarly, the iPod. Why couldn’t it be treated as a normal removable storage device, in the way that XPlay allows you to do? That way, an iPod user wouldn’t be tied to using iTunes, and iTunes could in turn support many other players, including my Duex.
(By the way, a quick plug for XPlay – unlike iTunes, it works on Windows Me and 98SE. It’s $30 to buy)
It also mentions the need for iTunes and the iPod to support Windows Media Audio, and in particular protected files downloaded from other pay-for-music services. Now while this doesn’t affect me, since I tend to buy the majority of my music on shiny discs and then rip it myself, it’s a valid point. My little Duex, despite only have 128MB of onboard memory, can play back WMAs – why can’t the iPod?
Finally, in his post on iTunes, Chris mentions that Apple fixed the ClearType rendering issue in QT6.4, and indeed they have, which is some consolation.


  1. Have you tried burning CD’s in iTunes? It works quite slick. Remember, Apple is an always has been a company that focuses on simplicity. Having to use another program to burn your playlists would make it more difficult for the user (as well as the iTunes store’s built in DRM). The freeze issue is only happening on select computers, and Apple’s engineers are working on a fix.
    With the iPod issue, on the Mac (haven’t tried on Windows, so I don’t know if this is the case here), you can set the iPod preferences when the iPod is plugged in, there you can specify to have it show up on the computer like an external hard drive. The exception here, is that the music folder will not show up. This is a way to protect from illegal file sharing. Apple has made its DRM as unobtrusive as possible, but they have to provide these safety-nets in order to keep the Music industry happy.
    Another good review can be found on slashdot.

  2. I would imagine Apple didn’t bother with Windows-style cd burning because they aren’t interested in becoming a media app producer — they want their iPod and iTunes Music Store to do well. It’s much easier to stick doing it “the Mac way,” I would think, then developing a separate Windows codebase for CD burning.
    Same goes for WMA, what benefit does that have for Apple (especially since the iPod doesn’t support WMA, and I doubt Apple would be too happy about having to license WMA from Microsoft)? AAC is MPEG4 based, so it is a lot more standardized anyway.
    Although the core thing is that, even with iTunes Music Store (iTMS) being only for the Mac until this week, iTMS still has 70% of the legal music downloading business (and I believe iPod is also outselling the other media players quite well). With that kind of marketshare without even bothering with a Windows client, other services should probably be worrying about working with iTunes and the iPod rather than the other way around (i.e. why should Apple, with a more popular service, have to make itself compatible with Windows Media Player and not the other way around).
    I guess that time will tell, but I betcha iTunes Music Store will quickly become the most popular music service on Windows just like it is on the Mac. It has such a smart, simple interface, easily to understand pricing and restrictions, etc., so I think it has an advantage over BuyMusic (where restrictions and price varies) as well as the subscription services.
    FWIW, I posted some comments about iTunes on my blog.
    Of course, I’m still hoping to see a GNU/Linux version soon.