October 20, 2003
So with great fanfare, Apple announced iTunes for Windows, and improvements to the iTunes Music store. Of course, because Steve Jobs did exactly what he said he would, he's gotten acclaim, and Apple's stock went up, because, after all, everyone said that iTunes, and the iTMS couldn't succeed without Windows compatibility. If you believe that, I have ocean-front property in Kansas City for you.
There have been a number of comments, about iTunes for Windows, and the iTMS. Since I don't use the iTMS, (No Led Zeppelin, and dubious name censoring), I'll look at the reaction to iTunes for Windows. First, I've used iTunes for Windows. It installed fine on my desktop machine, a Toshiba. No problems at all. Rebooted, it was ready to go.
There have been reports of iTunes causing serious problems with people's drives. I'm not going to dismiss these just because I had no problems, but it is a chance to look at one problem that both Linux and Windows have to deal with, that Apple really doesn't: Random Hardware Configs.
One of the biggest problems that Microsoft, or any OS running on Intel has is that you have no idea just what kind of whacked - out hardware that your application is running on. Sure, for the most part, it's all pretty decent, if the machine is a Dell, an HP, etc. But man, when you want to run on some of the stuff from the mom & pop shops, well, it's like my favorite Samuel Johnson quote about a talking dog: “It's more amazing that it talks at all, than how well it speaks.”
Of course, the winteloids will come back with “It's about choice man, we need choice.” Well, you enjoy your choice, I want crap that works right without me having to sacrifice an Oompa-Loompa to Chronus every St. Swiven's day. But this is what Apple has to deal with in the Wintel world. Random hardware, and people who will use it and demand your stuff run on it perfectly, because if it doesn't, then you suck, because it couldn't be their hardware's fault.
So my box booted fine, started up iTunes, and I saw...well, iTunes. (Just to give this the proper twist, I was running this via Microsoft's Remote Desktop Client on my TiBook 867MHz laptop to the Toshiba running Windows XP Professional. Much nicer than VPC, and far less CPU and hard drive usage.) Same iTunes interface, almost identical to the Mac version with the exception of some of the window widgets. This brings me to the next complaint from the hardcore Windows crowd: “It doesn't conform to the Windows UI guidelines”. I think the only proper response to this requires me to take a trip to “Dilbert”.
Oh my, please, let me compose myself for a minute...ah there..hee. I'm sorry, but the same group that excoriates Apple for not having a skinnable OS, or a bazillion UI customization options that only five people use to suddenly get all offended by Apple violating Microsoft UI guidelines, (Do these even exist?), is about like the Pope yelling at someone for wearing a funny hat. To quote Daria, “Aren't they even a little afraid there's a hell?” I can't even read those comments without laughing.
Aside from the continuing March of the Morons, it looks like iTunes should. It works the same, it acts the same. In fact, since I was running this from my Mac, I kept forgetting that this was iTunes for Windows, hitting cmd-I for “get info” and getting annoyed that it wasn't working. I'd call that a good port.
The only real problem is that importing my music library from my Mac isn't working so well...the “Add folder function” seems to give up and die after about 200 tracks or so. Annoying, but fixable.
It plays all the music formats that I expect it to, which brings me to the oft-seen “interview” by Microsoft's Press Pass PR group with one of the Windows Media wonks, bemoaning the “Lack of choice” in iTunes because it doesn't handle Windows Media Player files. Oh give me a break. MICROSOFT talking smack about Apple not being open because they won't play a totally proprietary closed format.
And then the DRM argument, like somehow, WMP files are better there. Have you ever seen the Gordian Knot of DRM that you get with WMP? And the entire “Well, with iTunes, you lose out on any non-iPod digital media devices” is laughable. iTunes doesn't force you to use an iPod, any more than it forces you to use DRM-protected AAC...let's see...I haven't bought a damned thing from the iTMS, so I have no DRM'd AAC files. I have a mix of AAC and MP3, used to have some AIF, and a WAV or two...hmm...open formats, and one is a MS/Intel format. With the exception of AAC, (because it's new), all of them will work on any player with the capacity to handle the file sizes. So that argument is just stupidity from someone feeling insecure.
In the end, iTunes for Windows does what it should, and with the same elegance and ease of use as on the Mac. There are some rough edges, but it's a 1.0 on Windows, and a lot nicer to use than any other Windows jukebox app. Mission accomplished.| Comments ()