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iTunes for Windows Reviews 628

Posted by michael
from the ireview dept.
joshv writes ""Hell has frozen over" proclaims the front page of Apple.com. iTunes for Windows was released this week. iTunes has been around for awhile as a Mac only product, receiving rave reviews. It's the Windows availability of the iTunes Music Store that is garnering the real interest. It has been eagerly awaited on the PC, ever since Apple launched it as a Mac only service in the spring of 2003." Read on for the rest of joshv's review; Ars Technica also has a review of the service.

The iTunes stores provides one of the most liberal usage policies of any of the Internet music download services, matched by some of the best prices. Most individual tracks are 99 cents, most albums under $10. There is no subscription fee, so once you've downloaded it, you can listen to it forever. You can also burn CDs with the music you've purchases, provided you don't burn the same playlist more than 10 times.

These terms are a testament to the weight Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, pulls in the media industry. The fact that he was able to single-handedly negotiate such liberal licensing terms is simply amazing given the comparatively restrictive policies we've seen from other online music download services. Jobs clearly gets it, and he's dragging the music industry, kicking and screaming, into an entirely new way of thinking about online music distribution.

And now it's all available on the lowly Windows PC. We'll talk about the implications of Apple writing Windows software later, but for now, on to the review.

Installation

You start at apple.com and click the download link for the Windows version of iTunes. I thought perhaps I'd experience some sort of clunky installation experience - after all, Apple has never written any Windows software, let alone had to deal with the vagries of the Windows installation process. But the installation went off without a hitch, requiring one reboot.

Atfer the reboot, you launch iTunes, it asks you a few questions, and you are ready to go.

The iTunes Music Store

To download music, you must first create a user account. This is a fairly simple process. You provide an email address, credit card number and verification information. It's quick and painless, and when complete you are immediately logged onto the iTunes Music Store (iTMS from now on).

First, a little bit about the interface layout in iTunes. iTMS is presented as a browser pane within the iTunes software. A hierarchical "Source" sidebar on the left hand side of the screen allows you to switch between the Music Store, your own music libraries, shared libaries, CDs, Internet radio, and the iPod (though I don't have one, so I can't test this).

All of the various content choices are displayed in some way in the main browser pane. Along the top of the iTunes window you'll find a search box that works as well for the iTMS as it does for your own music libraries.

The iTMS is attractively laid out with quicklinks on the home page to top songs, top albums, featured artists, and celebrity play lists (what does Shaq listen to?). A drop down allows you to browse a particular genre (what, no separate genre for Heavy Metal?)

Click on an album you like and you are taken to an album details page. Here Apple takes advantage of the fact that iTunes is more than a simple web browser. The top of the browser pane shows cover artwork, top downloads from the album, and a "People who liked this, also bought" list (didn't Amazon patent that?).

The bottom of the browser pane shows a sortable list of all the tracks in a grid format. You can add and remove columns, chosing from Album, Artist, Comment, Composer, Disk Number, Genre, Time, Track Number, and Year. Double clicking on the track plays a short, 20 second sample of the music. The Artist and Genre columns provide little arrow icons that serve as links to display more music from that artist or genre.

At the top of the page you click "Add Album" to purchase all of the tracks, or click "Add Song" in the grid to purchase a single track. Some album's don't allow you to purchase the entire album, you have to buy all the tracks individually. Some tracks are available only when purchasing the entire album (these are marked "Album Only" and are usually longer tracks).

Buying and downloading music

Apple provides two options for purchasing music, a "1-click" option, and the traditional Shopping cart/checkout. I prefer the shopping cart. It helps keep down the impulse buys and the cart itself is pretty slick. When you select the shopping cart, the main browser pane shows a list of all the tracks you've selected for purchase. Tracks from a whole album purchase are nested under their album title. Almost all of the same functions (preview, links to other works/genres) are available in the shopping cart. At the top of the pane a list of "Recommendations based on the items in your cart" is shown. Ah, blessed be the up-sell...

After you click "Buy Now" you will be asked to provide your iTunes password. You can optionally tell iTunes to remember you password for music downloads, and you will not be prompted. After a final confirmation, the download begins. You can continue to browse the music store, listen to other music in your library, or rip CDs while the download continues. The status window at the top of the screen continues to show the download progress. You can also check up on the status of a download by looking on your "Purchased Music" folder, a sub folder of the Music Store folder.

iTMS Music Selection

I found plenty of variety in just about every genre I like. Apple claims 400,000 tracks from 5 major labels are available. If you like audio books, they've got 5,000 online. And no, Metallica, that fun loving band of music sharing nay-sayers, isn't available.

Burning CDs

The easiest way to burn a CD is to create a playlist with the tracks you want to burn. If the playlist contains any music you've purchased from the iTMS, you will only be able to burn that particular playlist 10 times. Not much of a restriction in my book.

Burning is as simple as selecting the play list, selecting the songs in the playlist you want to burn, then clicking the "burn disk" icon in the upper right hand corner of the screen. This confused me at first, because the icon is grayish before activation, it looks disabled to this long-time Windows user. But once clicked, it comes to life, turning into a little radioactivity icon that throbs and spins as the burn progresses.

The progress of the burn is displayed in the same place that the download status is displayed, the oval status window at the top of the screen. A little icon in the status window allows you to switch between "Now playing", download status, an equalizer, ripping status, and burning status. Another little 'X' icon in the status window allows you to cancel a download, rip, or burn.

I have to say that this layout is a marvelously efficient use of screen real-estate, and avoids the dialog box hell many similar programs suffer, but at first I found it a bit confusing, especially since it's not immediately obvious how to get the status window to display the status of the various tasks iTunes has initiated.

I burned several CDs and had no problem playing them on other PCs. There are only a few options to set for burning. You can explicitly specify the burn speed, and the format, picking between Audio CD, MP3 CD, and Data CD (I am assuming this is just a direct burn of the music files, in whatever format).

Music burning just works, and works well. In fact I burned a disc at the same time I was ripping another, and playing some downloaded music. Everything worked without a hitch, though CPU utilization was high enough that it slowed down other things on my machine.

iTunes also supports burning to DVDs but I believe this is still available on the Mac only. As I don't have a DVD burner handy, I can't test this.

Organizing your music

Even without the iTMS, Windows users should want iTunes for it music library management/jukebox features alone. iTunes blows away the competition in so many ways it's hard to catalogue them all.

Playlists

Let's start with the play lists. Playlists are added to the Source pane, along the left hand side of the screen. You can create a play list and add songs manually. You also have the ability to check and uncheck songs within a playlist, to disable and enable their playing after you've created the list.

The "Smart Playlist" feature allows you to build dynamic song selection criteria based on the meta tags (song attributes - artist, album, rating, genre etc...) For example I created an "Ella" play list for Ella Fitzgerald. This included three rules: "Album contains 'Ella'", "Artist contains 'Ella'", and "Song Name contains 'Ella'". These playlists can optionally update dynamically as new music is added.

You can tell the Smart Playlist to match 'Any' or 'All' of your criteria. Criteria include "contains", "does not contain", "is", "is not", "starts with" and "ends with". Criteria can be applied to any of the meta tags. The number of songs in the playlist can be limited to a specific number of songs, minutes, hours, or total file size.

The Library

Selecting the "Library" icon from the Source pane displays your entire music library in all of its glory. The bottom of the screen shows the total number of songs, number of days of music, and total size in Gigabytes. The default view is a sortable grid displaying all of the meta tags as columns. You can sort on each column. The columns can also be rearranged. Every column but the "Song Name" can be enabled and disabled.

All of the usual meta tags are present, along with some new ones (at least to me) "My Rating", "Play count" and "Last Played", and "Equalizer". That last one lets you specify an equalizer preset for that track only. You can also specify a volume preset when you view the track's Info page (this is not available in the grid view).

Most of the fields are editable in the grid display, just click on the text and wait a second, an edit box will appear, allowing you to type over the information. You can also perform bulk updates by selecting multiple songs then viewing the "Info" page for those songs. A "Multiple Song Information" dialog appears that allows you to update selected tag fields for all of those songs.

I found this to be very handy for my ratty old MP3 library. It was poorly catagorized, with many fields missing. The bulk update feature made for quick cleanup.

As in the music store, double clicking the track in the grid plays it. By default, when finished with a track, the player plays the next track in the list, based on the current sort order. You can select a "Shuffle" mode that plays random tracks. Repeat options include "Repeat Playlist", and "Repeat song". I'd like to have seen a "Repeat album" feature.

The Browse feature

When viewing the Library, or any playlist, you can click the "Browse" button in the upper right hand of the screen (minor nit, the "Browse" button looks like a large, poorly rendered eye). This toggles the browse pane, taking some real-estate away from the song list grid at the top of the screen.

The browse pane itself is broken into three panes, Genre, Artist, Album. Selecting a genre limits the artist pane to only those artists in that genre. Selecting an artist limits the album pane to only that artist's albums. As you are doing this selecting, the grid below dynamically updates to show only those tracks that meet the catagories selected above. It's a very quick way to see what you have at a glance, and to find a particular track, album or performer in a large library. Very cool.

Overall iTunes does an excellent job of allowing you to flexibly organize and find your music. The interface is clean and simple, but powerful.

Ripping

Simple. Stick a CD in, select it from the "Source" sidebar on the left hand side of the screen, and the click the "Import" icon. I was not impressed with the ripping speed, which seemed to vary between 2x and 4x. There doesn't appear to be anywhere to set or tune the ripping speed.

There are only a few configuration options for importing. You can set the import format, choosing between AAC (MPEG-4), AIFF (mac uncompressed), MP3, and WAV. For each of the formats you can pick the sample rate and stereo/mono. For AAC and MP3 you can select the bit rate (VBR is an option for MP3s).

iTunes uses CDDB to look-up album and track information. In my usage this performed flawlessly, recognizing all the albums I threw at it.

More on the AAC format

AAC is the default music encoding format (codec) for the iTunes player. Apple claims that 128kbps AAC encoding provides quality almost indistiguishable from the original, much better than a 128kbps MP3. To my ears it all sounds great. The AAC files I downloaded at 128kbps sound great. I rarely encode MP3s at that low a bit rate, so I really can't do a comparison.

The full name for the AAC standard is actually MPEG-4 AAC. Music purchased from the iTMS is downloaded in an encrypted version of this format (.m4p) which is presumedly proprietary to Apple. However, you can rip music into an unencrypted AAC format (.m4a).

AAC is not an open standard, but was developed by the MPEG group, which includes Dolby, Fraunhofer (FhG), AT&T, Sony, and Nokia. As a result any software or hardware that uses AAC has to pay a license fee. As AAC is realtively new, support may be sporadic for the format in other players.

As a test I ripped some CD tracks to AAC format and then tried them out in other players. The Real One player didn't recognize the .m4a file extension. After renaming the files with .mp4 file extension, Real One downloaded a decoder, but then failed to import the ripped tracks. Note that these should not be encrypted tracks, as I ripped them, they weren't purchased from iTMS.

Windows Media Player didn't know what to do with either file extension (and I have the fully up to date version 9). There supposedly exists a winamp plugin for MP4/AAC, but I did not test it. There also appears to be a burgeoning gray market in unlicensed MP4/ACC de/encoders.

Even if your other audio players can read the audio format, they may not be able to read the meta tags you've created in the iTunes software, as Apple apparently uses its own tag format. So, if you rip to AAC, expect that iTunes will be the only platform that is going to provide full access to your music, until other players fully support the format. Also, don't expect to play the purchased music in native AAC format anywhere but in the iTunes player because of the built in encryption/DRM (though you can certainly burn a disc, then rip to MP3 format, you will lose some of the native quality).

If any of this is a problem for you, just rip directly to MP3 format and be done with it.

Importing your existing library

When you install iTunes, it will ask you if you want to search for existing music. I passed on this option, preferring to tell it exactly where to look. Importing older libraries of MP3s is simple. Just use the "Add Folder to Library" feature in the "File" menu.

I pointed iTunes to the root folder of my entire MP3 collection, and it figured everything out, flawlessly importing all of the albums, along with all of the meta tags. By default it leaves the tracks in their current location (which is what I wanted). You can choose to consolidate your music library at a later point. This copies everything into you iTunes music directory.

The iTunes music library directory is configurable. By default in Windows it's under My Documents\My Music\iTunes\iTunes Music. If you want to change it (as will many with large secondary drives used for music storage), make sure you do so before you start downloading, otherwise you might end up with music files in multiple locations.

Sharing your music

No, iTunes won't let you get in trouble with the Recording Industry by sharing your music with everyone else on the Internet. What it will do is allow you to export your full music library, or various playlists, to up to five other people on your local network. I didn't test this feature extensively, but it worked flawlessly between my desktop machine and my laptop over a Wi-Fi network. Apple calls this feature "Rendezvous", and it's been available on the Mac for a while now.

It just works. I fired up iTunes on the laptop, and the shared library, with all its playlist was immediately available in the Source pane. I'd suggest Microsoft take a page from this playbook. Anyone who has ever messed around with Microsoft's supposedly 'plug and play' home networking knows what I am talking about.

You can't do much with a remote music library, other than play it, and it's play lists. You cannot edit the meta tags, or create/edit play lists. Not a biggie, I am not sure I'd want that much flexibility anyway.

Sharing between users on the same machine

iTunes makes sharing music with other PCs on the network a snap, but it's a bit harder to share music between users of the same PC. At home I've set up my computer with an account for myself, and one for my fiancee. I installed iTunes in my account, and downloaded some music.

We wanted to see if my fiancee could use this music as well. The iTunes icon was on her desktop, but when we launched it, there was no music available in her Library. We changed her music libary to point to the music library iTunes had created for my user account, but still, nothing showed up in the play list.

We did mange to get it to work by exporting my Library using the "Export Library" option on the "File" menu. This allows you to save all of your playlists and track information to a massive XML file. We then imported this into iTunes when logged into her user account. It worked. This is a bit clunky though, and I doubt any meta tag updates she does will be reflected in my Library, and vice versa.

I imagine we could have manually added the music to her iTunes Library using the import functionality. The larger problem is that as we buy or rip more music we will constantly have to worry about keeping both account's Libraries and playlists in sync.

One cool way to work around this would be to use Windows XP's fast user switching. I haven't tried this (I run Windows 2000), but in theory with fast user switching you should be able to use Rendezvous between two users on the same machine.

Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management, or DRM, has become a dirty word in some technology circles. Many other music download services use DRM to lock you into their music player, force you to pay a subscription to keep listening to your music, and to tightly control what you can do with the music once you've downloaded it.

With iTunes, what's most noticable is how unobtrusive Apple has made the DRM. In fact, it's almost not present. Here are a list of things you can't do:

  • Burn a play list with purchased music more than ten times
  • Share music with more than 5 other computers on your local network
  • Share music over the Internet
  • Access your purchased music at full quality outside of iTunes
  • Re-download music once you've successfully downloaded it once (remember to make backups!)
Pretty much everything else is allowed. The first day I used iTunes, I downloaded an album, burned it, took it to work, and ripped it. This is as close to unrestricted usage of downloaded music as it gets. Granted, it's a little more restrictive than what you can do with a CD you've purchased - but CDs are more expensive, and to my mind, less flexible.

Internet Radio

iTunes provides a comprehensive list of Internet radio stations. I don't believe that Apple provides the content for any of these stations, but it does dynamically update the lists for each genre when you access them to ensure that the list remains fresh and defunct stations are removed.

I didn't exercise this feature too extensively, as I quickly found one of my favorite di.fm trance stations and spent the entire day at work listening to it - so I can't vouch for the quality or availability of the other stations. But there appears to be a wide selection, within a good variety of genres.

User Interface

If there is one thing I don't like about iTunes is the way it plays fast and loose with the various user interface metaphors. The iTunes player is a strange mixture between a "Brushed Metal" look, the native Mac OS X "Aqua" interface, and the boring old Windows native interface. There seems to be no rhyme or reason as to what's used where.

The menus and most drop down lists are windows native, even if the controls that access them are the Aqua look alikes. For example, in the iTMS there is a drop down list labeled "Select Genre". It's rendered with the translucent Aqua look and feel, but clicking it displays a drab Windows native drop down list. Just weird.

Also, what's up with this brushed metal obsession of Apple's? Why should computer software look and feel like a 1970's stereo component? I don't know. Do you?

The interface overall is sluggish. Presumably because of whatever software Apple used to port the Aqua eye candy to Windows. I'd prefer to give up some of the eye candy for a bit more speed.

All things considered, the interface potpourri doesn't get in the way too much, and though sluggish it's still usable. So these are all minor quibbles. Apple did such an outstanding job in making iTunes a simple yet powerful way to organize your music, that a few minor interface issues can easily be overlooked. At least until the next release.

Stability

One might think that as a first attempt at Windows software that iTunes might be buggy or prone to crashes. It didn't crash once in my usage, and handled some heavy workloads without incident. In fact I had it burning, ripping, and playing all at once. I'll bet you could add downloading to that list without a hiccough. There have been some reports of iTunes locking up after install - Apple is currently investigating. I did not experienced that particular issue.

I did find some minor display issues where sometimes the screen didn't update properly. Particularly when ripping, the little check mark sometimes didn't appear next to the track after it was ripped. This didn't seem to affect functionality in any way, and the songs played fine after the entire CD was ripped.

Wider implications for Apple

For years, Apple has been writing superior software, but only for the Mac. This has been a way for Apple to draw users to the Mac platform. Apple's tight control of the both the software and hardware environment allowed them to provide a superior user experience. For Apple to produce Windows software represents a sea-change in this philosophy.

First of all it represents a huge risk to the Apple brand. If it doesn't work well, or crashes due to the weird hardware/OS combinations that are all too prevalent in the Windows world, they will tarnish that hard won reputation for quaility and ease of use.

Secondly, they are giving up one of the drivers that pushes people to purchase that high margin Mac hardware - the superior software, that used to be available only on the Mac. There are people who bought Macs simply because of the media software that came bundled. Now, there is one less reason to get a Mac. Will Apple port more of these goodies to the PC? Is Steve Jobs crazy?

Like a fox. Note that Jobs has no plans to port OS X to commodity PC hardware, nor has he made any moves to port any of the other software in his suite of media productivity tools to the PC. The reason he ported iTunes is because it's the best way to access the iTunes Music Store. Apple makes money selling music on the iTunes music store. Probably not much money yet, but certainly they will make considerably more money if they don't restrict users to the Mac platform. With the advent of iTunes for Windows, the iTunes Music Store became the largest distributor of online music overnight.

Remember also that Steve jobs is in the process of re-conceptualizing the Mac as a media hub, de-emphasizing the computer itself, for media accessories. The iPod is an outgrowth of this process. With iTunes on my PC, guess what's now on my Christmas list? An iPod. I've played with other MP3 players and they software they use to manage MP3 libraries. They sucked - hard. iTunes shows me that it can be easy - it should be easy. In a single stroke Jobs has vastly increased the market for the iPod.

So what Jobs has done is managed to increase the market for two of his newest alternative revenue streams (iPod and iTMS) without singificantly compromising the revenue stream that's funding everything (Mac sales). Brilliant, and very pragmatic, so unlike Jobs.

Summary

Steve Jobs claims that iTunes is the best software ever written for Windows. It's certainly the best music player/Jukebox ever written for Windows. I don't know that any of the others can match it, feature for feature.

With iTunes and the iTunes Music Store, I honestly can't see myself returning to buying CDs. It's just so much more convenient, and significantly cheaper to download and burn - and I don't care about the minor quality differences or the lack of cover art. This is what I've been waiting for. YMMV of course, but it's definitely worth a try.

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iTunes for Windows Reviews

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  • by Teknobob (43181)
    I love the fact that the sharing under an OS X box can now be accesses without any other software on the host computer. iTunes for Macintosh Rocks & now with the advent of iTunes for windows, it rocks as well!
    • It's my default mp3 player now. I've uninstalled Music Match (or Match Music...I had this for years and STILL don't know what to call the thing, but don't go by that, I'm an idiot).

      I like the way iTunes filters work, I like the way it looks, I like the way the buying works...and I've had zero problems in burning disks.

      All around, I like this!
      • ""And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make" -- The Beatles"

        Synchronicity alert! I was just finishing up ripping/playing my first CD with iTunes. Guess what album it was? ... ... yep, Abbey Road
  • Just a note... (Score:5, Informative)

    by MrP- (45616) <rob@elitemrPOLLOCKp.net minus painter> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @07:26AM (#7253175) Homepage
    "after all, Apple has never written any Windows software"

    What about Quicktime?
    • I'm not sure if Quicktime for Windows deserves the title "software". It's not quite as bad as RealPlayer, but ugh. Everytime I try to play a QT file now, it searches through my CD drive for something. If there's not a disc in there, it tells me there was an error reading the disc. Reinstalling didn't help at all. What on earth is it doing? Not much I can do about it, either, since a lot of things are released in QT format... (movie trailers especially)

      I'd much rather have mpeg/avi. Hell, I'd even t
    • Or any well?

      I read some of the other replys to this post and some of them said about how Quicktime was poor. And I'd have to agree.

      While I don't know if I'd rate Quicktime as terrable or anything worse than poor, but it def was not written with anything in mind other than trying to show Windows users how much better Mac apps can be.

      But I think this actually is a departure for Apple. They *want* people to use this software and not have to clickthough "Upgrade to Quicktime Pro Now!" Rather use it and ma
    • Re:Just a note... (Score:4, Informative)

      by MouseR (3264) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @10:27AM (#7253777) Homepage
      Apple has writtent other software for Windows too. Through Claris and now FileMaker, the FileMaker and FileMaker Pro databases are available on Windows.

      Also, before Apple canned it, they (as Apple and before that, NeXT Software) have written plenty Windows Apps, like WebObjects, Enterprise Objects Framework and all the devs tools that have now become XCode (aka, Project Builder and Interface Builder).

      Don't be fooled. Those who wrote iTunes are those same folks that worked at NeXT before that.
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @07:32AM (#7253195)
    I can confirm that hell has not in fact frozen over because Natalie Portman is still refusing to date me.
  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @07:34AM (#7253200)
    You can also burn CDs with the music you've purchases, provided you don't burn the same playlist more than 10 times.

    I wonder if they included this restriction just to please the music studios. This is quite possibly the easiest thing to get around - burn the CD once and then just copy that CD instead of burning the files again. Unlimited copies!

    It doesn't even seem like it would be worth coding that in there unless the studios required it...

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
    • It doesn't even seem like it would be worth coding that in there unless the studios required it...

      I think you can safely assume that all the restrictions are there at the demand of the studios. The 10 burn thing is pretty moronic, but there you go...
    • burn the CD once and then just copy that CD instead of burning the files again. Unlimited copies!

      Shhh you fool! Don't tell the moro.. er.. RIAA things like that - they will start asking questions!
    • by Mwongozi (176765) <slashthree@@@davidglover...org> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @09:05AM (#7253476) Homepage
      It is indeed there just to placate the RIAA. The restriction is 10 burns per identical playlist too, and not per track. You can get around the restriction by recording a new, tiny, silent track, and sticking it on the end of the disc.

      Presto, 10 more burns.

      Rinse, repeat.
    • First, as has been pointed out, its the playlist which is restricted, not the files. You can reconfigure the files and burn them to your heart's content.

      The reason for this is to prevent someone from setting up their mac to automatically mass-produce lots of CDs--just push a button and swap the CDs. This puts an extra step in there every so often to make it more difficult.
  • by hoggy (10971) * on Sunday October 19, 2003 @07:35AM (#7253202) Journal
    The previews are 30 seconds for a song, 90 seconds for an audio book. If you have one-click ordering on, then all the "Add Song"/"Add Album" buttons become "Buy Song"/"Buy Album". Apple have licensed Amazon's patents for one-click and "people who bought this also bought..." etc. (I believe they are the only other online store owner who have.)

    Apple claim that the DVD burning works on Windows. As a Mac user I can say that iPod synching is effortless - I would assume that the Windows software operates the same (the iPod supports Firewire and USB 2). Apple have admitted that the iTMS makes no money at the moment and mainly exists to sell iPods.

    The 5 computers thing is a restriction on the number of machines you can authorize to play DRMed music. You can share your own rips with as many on the local network as you like. You can also authorize a machine at work and copy your music there to play, but that's one less machine at home obviously. Rendezvous is very cool - it's basically plug-n-play IP (using wacky multicast DNS).

    Various people have found ways to share a library between different users on Mac OS X, I would assume that similar hacks can be used with the Windows version - Google may turn up something helpful.
    • The 5 computers thing is a restriction on the number of machines you can authorize to play DRMed music. You can share your own rips with as many on the local network as you like. You can also authorize a machine at work and copy your music there to play, but that's one less machine at home obviously.

      I feel stupid, but could someone explains to me how this works? I've been interested in trying out the iTMS, but I want to understand it better first.

      Ok, let's say I buy Radiohead's Creep off the iTMS. I down
      • Each computer has to be "authorized" which means that you have hooked up (through iTMS) to Apple and given a username and password. This "authorizes" your computer (one of three) to play iTMS songs under that account.

        When you want to move from your work PC, to another PC at home, or another at work, you de-authorize one computer and authorize the other.

        Been using this since April 24th and it all works very well.

        BZ
      • I feel stupid, but could someone explains to me how this works? I've been interested in trying out the iTMS, but I want to understand it better first.

        I'm a little wooly on the mechanics of it myself to be honest. But as I understand it, all the music you buy is encrypted with something unique to your account. When you authorize a computer you download a key that will decrypt your music (and only your music) on that machine. The keys must be locked to the computer somehow (a la activation) and Apple will o
        • The keys must be locked to the computer somehow (a la activation) and Apple will only issue you 5. If you want to move your music from one machine to a new one and don't have a spare key, then you need to de-authorize one computer freeing the key so that you can authorize the new one.

          Actually, you can only authorize "3" computers. Many people seem to be confusing the number of machines you can share ANY music with simultaneously with the number of machines you can have authorized to play Purchased Music.
      • Winamp plays AAC/MP4 with this plugin. [sourceforge.net]

        I've only tested it with files ripped with Nero, but it works.

      • If you backup to an audio CD, the backup you make will not be encumbered by any DRM.
  • From the review;

    "...after all, Apple has never written any Windows software, let alone had to deal with the vagries of the Windows installation process..."

    Erm, QuickTime?
    • Erm, QuickTime? ... AppleWorks, FileMaker Pro. Going back into the mists of time we have the OpenDoc framework which was meant to be cross-platform, and other horrible genetic experiments like Taligent/Pink.
    • well, quicktime on pc is just about the worst kind of pr(it's annoying 'free' version is cripled and makes you want to shoot yourself and wish they had just released codecs). sure, it works fine in browser for watching trailers(but having to change resolution for fullscreen? whats up with that?), a nice plus is that apples servers have nice bandwith for those trailers so you don't have to wait for them to load(provided that you are on an equally beefy line yourself).


  • I don't know where Steve gets the idea it would take hell freezing over before iTune$ would run on windows, that seemed obvious.

    What will take hell freezing over is when OS X runs on intel (officially), not just one app.
  • Oversight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JanusFury (452699) <kevin.gadd@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @07:48AM (#7253235) Homepage Journal
    The main oversight I've noticed in reviews of iTunes is performance/efficiency, and it just so happens that performance is my major gripe with iTunes, and actually the main reason why I don't plan to use it.

    iTunes uses around 40 MB of RAM on my WinXP SP1 machine, with no music files in my library and nothing playing. Add in the iPod driver and the iTunesHelper app that it runs in the background, and you've probably got around ~60MB of RAM usage on average. Winamp uses 8-10 megs in comparison.

    Resizing the iTunes window is insanely slow - 100% CPU usage, and it takes a quarter to half second just for the screen to update while resizing the window. Oh yes, and if the Music Store is open? It takes, I kid you not, more than a second for the screen to update while resizing. The resizing performance seems to increase a little when the window gets small, which implies that the entire iTunes window is being buffered offscreen (which probably explains some of the RAM usage too.) I also noticed that dragging the volume slider would peg my CPU at 100%. I don't have a low-end machine, and I can only imagine how horribly slow iTunes must be on older machines. On one hand, though, iTunes didn't seem to lag when playing music and things like that. Switching playlists/views on the Source sidebar usually took between a half second and two seconds. Playing a 96KBPS MP3 radio stream used an average of ~8-12% CPU usage, which while not terrible is a lot more than Winamp uses to do the equivalent on my system. The iTunes visualizer averages a decent framerate of around 30FPS, so it looks smooth, but it obviously pegs the CPU.

    iTunes's setup is also around 20 megs, which is a bit hefty for a music player. But since you get CD burning, iPod support, and online music purchasing in the deal, it's not too bad, but it probably is a little painful for modem users.

    The iTunes executable is nearly 8 megabytes. I can't imagine that this does anything to help the ~6 second load times for iTunes that I experienced on my system (which has 768MB of DDR233 RAM, and an Athlon XP 1800+, FYI.) In comparison, Winamp loads in under a second. It seems to me almost that every single library and component iTunes uses is static-linked in, which is a bit bizarre.

    Just to weigh in on the rest of iTunes:

    The GUI is, overall, acceptable. I've never cared much for the Apple 'steel/silver/whatever' look, and while it's not bad, I can't say that it looks terribly attractive. One peculiar thing is that the titlebar looks very strange and is neither the titlebar that you see in OS X, or the standard Windows one - I can't say I understand their choice to roll their own titlebar, as the iTunes one lacks a few usability features of the Windows titlebar that I've come to rely on (context menu, icon, etc).

    In comparison, the iTunes preferences dialogs are very well designed and use Windows XP themes when available, so they look mostly pleasing to the eye and are easy to navigate for someone who is comfortable with Windows.

    iTunes adds a simple but useful system tray icon that lets you change tracks and turn shuffle/repeat on and off. Good feature, I'm glad they didn't leave it out.

    One strange GUI quirk is that there are two options for Exit on the iTunes File menu - Exit, and Close Window. One would assume that Close Window would just close the window and leave iTunes running, like on the Mac, but no such luck - it exits, with no confirmation dialog. Strange.

    You can't resize the iTunes window unless you grab the bottom-left corner. I've never liked this aspect of Mac GUIs at all, but I'm sure there are some people who do like it.

    The music store is very polished and easy to navigate, and my guess is that it uses a subset of Safari for rendering (but of course, I could be wrong.) The front page presents lots of content in a very organized manner, and it's easy to navigate back to wherever you came from while looking around. I didn't get around to buying any songs, so I can't say how well th
    • Re:Oversight (Score:5, Informative)

      by Wylfing (144940) <brian.wylfing@net> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @08:53AM (#7253425) Homepage Journal
      iTunes uses around 40 MB of RAM on my WinXP SP1 machine...Winamp uses 8-10 megs in comparison.

      And? Last I checked, WinAMP has a tiny fraction of the capability of iTunes. This isn't an apples-to-apples comparison.

      Resizing the iTunes window is insanely slow - 100% CPU usage, and it takes a quarter to half second just for the screen to update while resizing the window.

      You must be lying, or else you have something seriously wrong with your box. There is simply no way an Athlon XP with 768MB RAM can't resize iTunes better than this. I have an Athlon XP with 512 MB RAM and iTunes resizes just fine. 100% CPU usage? Please.

      the ~6 second load times for iTunes that I experienced on my system

      Wha? I see load times of around 1.5 seconds. Again, you're either lying or there's something seriously wrong with your machine.

      One peculiar thing is that the titlebar looks very strange and is neither the titlebar that you see in OS X, or the standard Windows one

      Care to point out to me where the standard Windows title bar is in WinAMP?

      • Theres some controls that hinder performance alot more - for example, resize with the iTunes store open, and you'll see signifigant delays and 100% CPU spike. (In fact, resizing in any way - even just click & holding the corner without dragging - spikes the CPU, but it's just idle processing so thats okay). The "browse" playlist stuff has a similiar but less extreme effect. Resizing when just your library is showing won't be an issue.

        As for Winamp, it actually has assloads of functionality that iTunes

      • "What? I see load times of around 1.5 seconds. Again, you're either lying or there's something seriously wrong with your machine. "

        Sorry but of the three machines I've tried it on (PIII900,XP1900,Duron 1GHz all w/512MB) ITunes doesn't come close to launching in 1.5 seconds.

        Hey I mostly like ITunes, but you're really in denial about slow it can be. Initial startup takes well over 10 seconds and second launches take just about 4 seconds on my fastest PC. Good for you if it starts up so fast, but rest assure
    • I tried out iTunes too. I also noticed the "maximize" thing. It is strange behavior in the Windows world, but I guess it's standard for the Mac world. Well, this application isn't running under a Mac UI, so they should address it. To be honest, it isn't a big deal... it's just the principle of the thing. I'm not a big fan of the brushed metal look either. I can see Apple promoting their brand here - that must be why they chose to go in that direction. Either that, or it was just faster to get it out t
    • Re:Oversight (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ahaldra (534852)
      The iTunes visualizer averages a decent framerate of around 30FPS, so it looks smooth, but it obviously pegs the CPU.
      I wonder what kind of framerate you get on your system when you turn frame rate capping off? ];->
  • by PghFox (453313) <afoxson@p o b ox.com> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @08:10AM (#7253301) Homepage
    > I don't care about the...lack of cover art.

    Errrr. Two steps:

    1 - Toggle 'iTunes > Edit > Show Artwork' on.
    2 - Select a purchased track.

    Alternatively,

    1 - Select a purchased track.
    2 - Visit 'File > Get Info > Artwork'.
  • I've been looking for a new media player, as I've been growing dissatisfied with my primary player, Winamp 2.x. I've tried a few others which I wasn't happy with, so I eagerly downloaded iTunes. With all the hype around the Mac version, my expectations were high.

    To cut to the case, I was pretty dissapointed. Yes, it's a good media player, but that's all it is IMHO, not a *great* media player.

    Things I liked:
    Easy to use
    Scanned my collection quickly and fairly accurately

    Things I didn't like:
    The installer wa
    • Re:My experiences (Score:2, Insightful)

      by thallgren (122316)
      >A non standard windows UI.

      Really? I can't imagine a more severe crime to "Windows UI laws" than Windows Media Player, WinAmp 1,2,3 and RealPlayer.

      Windows Media Player is even reluctant to accept drag'n'droping of files, unless you pinpoint a certain area in the UI.

      And all media players in Windows fight for the file extensions, but that is probably something Windows itself should have an item in the Control panel for.

      Regards, Tommy
  • I have used the Windows version of iTunes and wanted to compare the experience to the Mac method. I went to a handful of Mac sites that have user forums with comments about Quicktime/iTunes vs WMP and it really seems that objectivity has gone out the window for most of these folks. Specifically when users make comments like "windows media format is inferior to AAC and MP3", in order to rally the fellow lemmings to cry out against the terrible M$ product. Makes me not want to buy anything Mac platform tho I
  • by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @08:24AM (#7253343)
    One of the features touted by Apple is that when you buy from iTMS, you can copy that file to an unlimited number of iPods and unlimited number of times and it will always play on those iPods no matter what.

    How exactly are the iPods getting around the DRM and what's to stop someone from making any of the iTMS files think they're actually being played on an iPod and not on a computer?
    • by Otto (17870) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @08:57AM (#7253444) Homepage Journal
      The answer is that you can copy it to an iPod using iTunes and perhaps nothing else.

      Apple's DRM works, basically, as follows:
      1) Every iTMS user has an account. This account gets a key.
      2) When you "authorize" a copy of iTunes, basically you're downloading a copy of that key somewhere onto that computer. Apple will let you authorize 3 copies of iTunes per account. You can "deauthorize" a computer too, telling apple that the key has been removed from that computer.
      3) Every file you download from iTMS has some DRM in it. The M4P file (MPEG4 Protected) has a note in it saying which account downloaded it. In other words, it has your ".MAC" username inside.
      4) When you play the file with iTunes, it sees the username and checks it's big list of keys to see if there's a key for that user on the computer. If so then it plays the file. If not, it doesn't.

      The key can work a few different ways. Which way it really does work, I haven't fully worked out yet.

      Method a) The M4P also contains a signature that decrypts with your key. iTunes then simply checks the signature using your key and plays if it's good.
      Method b) The M4P's actual audio data is encrypted using your key. This is possible, since they're already modifying every downloaded M4P file to stick in a .MAC username, might as well encrypt the data too.
      Method c) A combinaton of both a and b. This seems most likely, but again, I haven't totally worked it out yet.

      Now, when you stick the M4P onto the iPod, a few different things can happen:
      a) iTunes can remove the DRM, decode the file into a normal unprotected one, and stick it on the iPod. Unlikely, as the iPod has basically zero protection for taking music back off of it. Just a bit of obfuscation, nothing seriously hard to overcome.
      b) iTunes transfers the key to the iPod, which can then decrypt the file and play it as needed. This means that you must use iTunes to transfer the M4P to the iPod, and therefore this seems to be the most likely method.

      The reason I call this whole mess DRM-lite is that everything you need to play the song is on one computer. This is easily proven, in fact, as you can authorize a computer, unplug the ethernet cable, and it still plays just fine. Reboot it, it still plays great. Whatever, the key is on the computer somewhere.

      The crack that will eventually come up is that someone will find the key on the hard drive, figure out how it decodes the M4P, and write a quick and easy program that converts the M4P to an M4A (unprotected MPEG4 Audio). That'll be the way the conversion is done without decoding and encoding again.

      Now that the other (and let's face it, a bit more technical and hackerish) 90% of the world has real solid access to the format, it'll be cracked in a couple weeks or so.
    • by gellenburg (61212) <george@ellenburg.org> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @09:44AM (#7253589) Homepage Journal
      Because most people mistakenly believe the DRM is actually in the FILE, when in fact QuickTime, and the subsequent QuickTime/AAC component in the iPods is the piece that's controlling the DRM.

      There is absolutely no DRM whatsoever within the iTMS downloaded file.

      There IS, however, your iTMS UserID & name embedded in the files.

      My proof is this -

      I took an iTMS purchased track and was able to play it on my Windows laptop LAST MONTH by doing the following:

      1. Rename the file to .mp4
      2. Use QuickTime 6.1 for Windows. This version of QuickTime had no DRM support in it, and supported AAC audio.

      FUDs over. Move along.
      • There is absolutely no DRM whatsoever within the iTMS downloaded file.

        I was pretty sure this was not the case. When the iTMS first came out, I took a .m4p that a friend had bought, and then bought the same track myself. The files were completely different (not just the embedded user ID, the actual music data), indicating that they had been encrypted with different keys.

        I took an iTMS purchased track and was able to play it on my Windows laptop LAST MONTH by doing the following

        That is very surprisin

  • by Otto (17870) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @08:32AM (#7253366) Homepage Journal
    First, let me state that I own an iPod, which is why I like iTunes to some degree. It works incredibly well with the iPod.

    However, it's not without it's faults, both major and minor. Most of them are because they shoved it out the door too early, I grant you. The next release may fix most of the problems.

    Minor ones:

    - Speed. It's slow. Not excessively so, but Apple made a massively huge mistake in porting large chunks of the iTunes interface to Windows using some kind of emulation trick. Resizing a column width isn't fluid and smooth like it should be. Even moving the window around is clunky because of all the custom interface code. Memorywise I have no complaints, unlike many others, but it's slow because it's trying to use nonstandard interfaces. Quicktime suffers the same problems. Hey guys, this is Windows. Use the freakin' Windows standard interfaces already. You're only pissing off Windows users. Ease of use? Ease of use always boils down to what you're used to, and that's it. I'm not used to using a Mac. If I actually had a mac, then maybe I'd be used to it. This is piss poor design and sloppy coding. If you're really determined to stick with the mac like interface, then actually rewrite the damn thing instead of slapping a slow emulation layer underneath it and shoving it out the door.

    - Interface is totally wacky. There's no way to maximize the thing to get the most out of the screen real estate. NONE WHATSOEVER. You can drag the thing larger, but you absolutely, positively, cannot fill the screen. This is damn annoying. The maximize button even makes the damn thing go into compact mode. Talk about unintuitive. Again, USE THE STANDARD INTERFACES.

    -It has a real problem playing one playlist while I do things to other songs. I start playing something in a list, then go elsewhere in the interface to edit tags or something, and when that song stops, the damn thing stops playing because I'm no longer on the playlist that I was on when I started playing. WTF? Why can't I have it continue to play songs in the background while I'm doing other shit in the foreground? This is clumsy and stupid. When I start the thing playing a list of songs, it should play until I tell it to stop, no matter what the heck I do. Unless I go in and remove songs from that list, don't freakin' stop. I hate having to go back to the list to start the next song every 4 minutes. It's so annoying that I've started using Winamp in the background to actually play songs while I'm modifying tags and adding album art and such.

    - Oh, when I manually add album art to a file, if I do it more than once, it adds multiple pictures to that file (in the ID3 tag). This shouldn't happen, it should remove the old one first or overwrite it or something.

    -Quicktime installation without asking. Make the initial install more clear that quicktime is going to be installed, and then install it in such a way that it doesn't: a) leave an icon in the taskbar by default, b) leave an icon in the Quick Launch bar by default, c) leave an icon on the desktop by default. In fact, why not detect if QT is installed, and if so, upgrade and then use it, but if it's not installed, just install the minimum crap needed to use iTunes, like DLL's and code and such. Maybe I don't want the damn QT player, but I still want to use iTunes... Forcing customers to have to clean up the shit you're spewing everywhere is not a way to make friends.

    Major things:

    - I cannot believe that an advanced media player program has no capability to retrieve tags and cover art and such for random files using available information. This is totally unacceptable in a modern music organizer program. Hell, even WMP9, as crappy as it does it, can do that. Why am I entering tags and cover art and such shit manually? WTF?

    - Support other devices. Not massive support, you don't need to do smart playlists on them and such, but if you want to use iTunes as an interface to the store, then you need to be able to support devices other t
    • Maximising the window: On Mac Os X, you can alt-click the green button to maximise the iTunes window. YMMV.

      Pictures: Get info for multiple tracks, drag the new picture in the "Artwork" box.
    • Heres a fun one for Windows people - try rightclicking on that funky "browse" or "burn CD" context button. Go ahead, see what happens.
    • You cannot directly change the sound out mechanism in iTunes. You have to go to Control Panel->Quicktime to do that, not very intuitive.

      You also cannot do the simple things found in winamp in regards to keeping the program on the desktop, namely - keep it as an icon in the system tray, keep the program always on top (for the small version)

      You cannot change the first column of the database display, it is ALWAYS the track name.

      You also cannot have multiple sorts of the database display (at least I have
    • [...] the damn thing stops playing because I'm no longer on the playlist that I was on when I started playing. WTF? Why can't I have it continue to play songs in the background while I'm doing other shit in the foreground?

      That's what the "repeat playlist" button is for (bottom, third button from the left). I don't know about iTunes for Windows, but I've never had iTunes on the Mac spontaneously stop playing songs while I'm dorking around with the iTMS or other playlists, as long as that button is turned

      • That's what the "repeat playlist" button is for (bottom, third button from the left). I don't know about iTunes for Windows, but I've never had iTunes on the Mac spontaneously stop playing songs while I'm dorking around with the iTMS or other playlists, as long as that button is turned on.

        Huh? I mean like I have an album in the list on the screen.. I start playing that album. If I walk away, the album continues to play. If I go to another album while it's playing and edit some tags or something, then when
    • by Masque (20587) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @11:04AM (#7253915)
      Forcing customers to have to clean up the shit you're spewing everywhere is not a way to make friends.
      Amen to that. Have you ever tried installing something called Microsoft Windows [microsoft.com]? It's the ultimate expression of this kind of problem. Maybe we can get them both to listen, somehow....
    • However, it's not without it's faults, both major and minor. Most of them are because they shoved it out the door too early,

      However, even for a product that was "rushed" and "shoved out the door", iTunes just shows how careful and considerate Apple was to all of this. I agree that developers simply need time, but Apple is one of those companies with a clandestine interior, making it near impossible to see what is going on underneath it all. For all we know, they may have already started porting iTunes for

  • Now, I realize that it's my own darn fault for running an OS from the last century, but why is iTunes only available for Win2000 and WinXP? It seems odd to me that something as simple as a media player/music store portal wouldn't be backwards compatible to Windows 98.
  • My biggest beef with iTunes is iTMS - You can only buy music if you live in the US and have an american creditcard. Sucks. Any word on when they'll let the world buy too?
    • My biggest beef with iTunes is iTMS - You can only buy music if you live in the US and have an american creditcard. Sucks. Any word on when they'll let the world buy too?

      Because the music industry wouldn't let them to.
    • by Motherfucking Shit (636021) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @09:12AM (#7253503) Journal
      You can only buy music if you live in the US and have an american creditcard. Sucks. Any word on when they'll let the world buy too?
      Whenever the record labels and their subsidiaries and associates licence Apple to distribute the music outside of the US.

      If you're wondering why this process might take awhile, the following tidbit might interest you. I have a poster hanging on my wall promoting Skinlab's CD "Disembody: The New Flesh." [amazon.com] This album was released on a label called Century Media. At the bottom of the poster is the following, in fine print:

      "Distribution: SPV in Germany; Caroline Distribution in the U.S.; Suburban in Benelux; House of Kicks in Sweden; Plastic Head in UK; Media 7 in France; NSM Records in Austria; Phonag Records in Switzerland; Self Distribution in Italy; Mastertrax in Spain; MVM in Portugal; MMP in Poland; Globus in Czech Republic; Music Dome in Hungary; Megatherion in Greece; Voices of Wonder in Norway; Spinefarm in Finland; NordicMetal in Denmark; NEMS Enterprises in Argentina; St. Clair in Canada; M.D.M.A. in Israel; Shock in Australia; Rock Brigade in Brazil."

      The distributors above most likely have exclusive agreements for their respective markets. Meaning that if Apple wanted to sell tracks from this CD to Canadians, for example, it would first have to get permission from the label (Century Media), and it would then have to contact St. Clair, the Canadian distributor. Even if both of them agreed to let Apple in on the game, the contract between Century and St. Clair would need to be renegotiated, and new contracts drawn up between Apple and both companies.

      And all this work only covers the 10 tracks from this album, as it's quite possible that Skinlab's other efforts are distributed through entirely different companies. Not to mention thousands of albums from hundreds of other artists. After all, it's doubtful that Apple would launch a Canadian version of ITMS without having a substantial number of songs available.

      My condolences, but I don't think ITMS will be available in (m)any other countries for quite awhile. I agree, sucks... But don't blame Apple.
  • The reason he ported iTunes is because it's the best way to access the iTunes Music Store... [and the iPod]

    You forgot one thing -- the switch campaign. I started out wondering if Apple could convince other manufacturers (Gateway, Dell etc.) to have iTunes for Windows preinstalled... no way. A lot of Windows users are going to get used to iTunes, and realize that they want a Mac.

    Those performance problems though... Apple really needs to step back make iTunes 5 nothing but an optimization project (similar

  • ...but it's only available in the USA.

    A lot of people commenting on or reviewing iTunes keep neglecting to mention this rather important little bit of information.

    So Europeans, don't waste you're time downloading it, unless you just want another ripper/player/library (albeit one with a rather nice UI, but at the expense of an awful lot of system resources!)
  • by Nailer (69468)
    Anyone tried it under Linux yet (presumably with WineX or a similar setup)?
  • Is this really so revolutionary that it would warrent me to create a windows partition? I have to admit that the last Windows I ran was Windows 95 and have managed to "get by" with Linux since 1998. Yet, this is the first Windows application that has been hyped so much that I feel like it may be worth a try.
  • Minimize to SysTray (Score:3, Informative)

    by edibleplastic (98111) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @09:29AM (#7253555)
    Apart from some minor annoyances, I think iTunes works really really well. The only major feature I'd like to see is the ability to minimize it so only the icon in the systray remains visible. I like to listen to music when I'm working and if I have a lot of programs open, I don't my music program taking up space in the taskbar.

    Oh, it would also be nice to be able to remove cover art once you've added it. The way it is now, if you make a mistake, you're stuck with the wrong cover art.
  • Steve Jobs said Apple is almost break-even on iTMS, but the lose money and expect to continue that way.

    The revenue is in the best MP3 player on the market, the Apple iPod. Its design, size and user interface gives it no competition. iRiver has made a new unit approx the same size, and at the same prize, with more features trying to see if they have chance to even get to the knees of Apple.
  • Which from the complaint's I'v been hearing is an absolute bitch. Apparently, it likes to install buggy core windows components, provided helpfully by microsoft, to administer the DRM and when it's uninstalled, leaves them behind with a large number of (as it appears, but it could be something microsoft breaking them) broken, modified drivers; most people can't burn CD's of any kind anymore. In short, if you're going to completly uninstall Itunes, prepare to completly reinstall windows if you want to get
  • I think the article was well thought out and honest.
    I think that Apple believes that the iTunes music store for Windows will be extremely successful because Windows has more market share and it just seems logical that: more users = more purchases.
    There was a market research study [com.com] by Nielsen/NetRatings, that stated Apple users are more likely to buy stuff off the web or buy into webservices-- which really just stems from macs being pricier machines and hence most of the people buying them can afford to was
  • AAC is the default music encoding format (codec) for the iTunes player. Apple claims that 128kbps AAC encoding provides quality almost indistiguishable from the original, much better than a 128kbps MP3. To my ears it all sounds great. The AAC files I downloaded at 128kbps sound great. I rarely encode MP3s at that low a bit rate, so I really can't do a comparison.

    I'm sure that there are instances of where AAC is a super format, but the first things I downloaded were some of Evgeny Kissin's performances on
  • by RalphBNumbers (655475) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @10:08AM (#7253701)
    I really wish people would do their research before assuming something can't be done.

    iTunes for windows *can* burn DVDs

    You can "Access your purchased music at full quality outside of iTunes". Any app that supports quicktime files can play them, there aren't as many such apps on windows as there ought to be (and as there are on mac), but that will change if there's any real demand for this feature.
    Plus you can burn your music to CD with no quality loss.

    "Apple uses it's own tag format" is technically true, but misleading because Apple's metadata fromat from quicktime was adopted as an open standard for MPEG-4. Any app that properly supports the MPEG-4 file format should be able to read those tags.

    Also, AAC *is* an open standard, it's just pattented, the same as MP3. All the documentation is available, any you can make a MPEG-4 AAC codec and legally sell it up to 50,000 times without paying any liscencing fees.
  • by weave (48069) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @10:10AM (#7253713) Journal
    Some of the reviews were deceptive or just downright wrong.
    • Fast user switching: From what I've read elsewhere, you can't use Rendezvous between users on same computer. On XP, something is single-user access and the second user who tries to run iTunes gets an error about files being in use. From what was said from developer users of the pre-gold Panther, which has fast user switching, Panther (OS X 10.3, comes out 10/24) has the same limitation. Obviously Apple has to fix this.
    • Lock ins: So, Apple has the biggest selling portable music player in the market, no other music stores on Windows will support it because other players are "locked into WMP" and somehow because Apple releases something to give those ipod owners access to music stores, it's a bad thing? The real lock-in is Microsoft using OS monopoly to leverage WMP to try to monopolize the style of portable players out there. Non-issue, Windows users have choices. Buy any number of players and have fun with buymusic, napster 2, and restrictive DRM rights, or buy an ipod and use itunes to download music.
    • MP3 ripping: Most of these anti-choice raves fail to mention that iTunes gives its users the best choice, buying a CD the old fashioned way and ripping it to unrestricted mp3s and using those mp3s on any portable media player.
    • Death of mp3?: Microsoft's biggest goal is probably to kill off mp3 format. When wmp format was to take over, then portable players could stop supporting mp3 and the lock-in and the elimination of mp3 could begin. Apple just screwed the pooch on this plan.
    • Vendor control: I have a feeling that because iTMS, iTunes, and iPod are all controlled by Apple, that it was because of this that the record companies were willing to give Apple better licensing rights than the other services. If a vendor controls the entire experience, as much as that makes me nervous (I don't want to see Apple monopolize anything either), it's probably harder to compromise the security due to some third party licensed vendor stupidity (like that vendor who allowed decss to happen because they didn't encrypt their key in their product by mistake).
    • Flexibility of the three DRM'ed computer model: Also of failure to note is that with the three authorized computers, you can do anything you can on any of the others, and switching what three are authorized isn't that hard. Under WMP and buytunes, at least, I've read bitching that you can only have one "primary" computer that owns the downloaded material and only from that computer can you burn (if permitted) or dump to a device (which might be limtied). Other permitted computers (if there are any) are resticted to play only. I only mucked with DRM under WMP once, with some free download of a tune a while back. All three iTMS computers are authed with the same rights.
    • Consistent rights policy: Go browse buymusic.com -- there are almost an unlimited number of various restrictions they allow, like limiting number of portable devices it can be downloaded to, number of computers, number of CD burns, each with different amounts. So if I make a playlist of various music types and try to burn, copy, or dump to portable player, any one of them that exceeds one of those limits would cause a problem for that action. No thanks. Apple's is consistent across the board. Now, I admit, because buymusic.com is more flexible with their restrictions, some whining bands like Linkin Park who want album only downloads are listed there but not on iTMS, but if iTMS takes off, they'll change their tune (or rhyme if you prefer!)

    Bottom line, as of a few days ago, Windows users have another choice. It's far more than Mac users have. So why the bitching? Mac users seem perfectly happy. If you don't want any of this, don't use Apple's products. Use the others.

  • I found the review of iTunes for Windows to be pretty thorough and I enjoyed reading everyone's praises and complaints that they're experiencing so far. One thing to keep in mind though is what people will be using iTunes for.

    Some people won't care about ripping everything. The average consumer (ie, not a power user) will love how it ties in with their iPod. Some people may want a simple way to organize their library. I'm not sure how many people will want to use each and every feature of iTunes, includi
  • Some corrections (Score:3, Informative)

    by joshv (13017) on Sunday October 19, 2003 @10:16AM (#7253730)
    - As many people have pointed out, Apple has indeed written software for the PC, not a lot, but some. Brain fart on my part. Quicktime is the obvious one. Some people suggested Filemaker pro - the company that makes it is a subsidiary of Apple, so I imagine that counts.

    - iTunes does not, repeat does not, leave your music where it was when you import it. It re-arranges song locations based on Author - not too big a deal unless you have a lot of compilations. A friend of my found his compliation CDs split into multiple directories based on author, and then album. I don't have many compilations, so this is not an issue for me. There is no obvious way of getting the files back together in the same directories. Strangely, when you rip a compilation CD using iTunes, it puts it into a 'Compilations' directory, storing all of the tracks together. Not sure why the import functionality can't do the same thing.

    - Previews on iTMS are 30 seconds, not 20 seconds.

    - DVD burning is supposed to work on Windows according to Apple.

    - Many people seemed to find the performance of iTunes much less acceptable than I did. My impressions of performance may be a bit skewed, as I have a dual processor box with a lot of memory and a fast harddrive. A friend of mine just installed it on a newer uniprocessor Dell, and it seemed to perform well. YMMV.
  • Something other than...

    iTunes For Windows sucks because...

    A) It doesn't play OGG
    B) Why pay for music when you can get it for free
    C) It doesn't play WMA
    D) It doesn't feel like a Windows program
    E) All of the Above

    I think what the majority of people overlook is that this is a first release, there are bound to be improvements in later versions (just look at the first release of the Windows Media Player).

    While it might not be the best solution for those of us who are more technically-inclined, for the great
  • I'm lovin' the iTunes, but I have 3 complaints.

    1. If you're previewing a song and click anywhere else in the iTMS your preview stops playing. Very annoying.

    2. I can't get iTunes to work at work, probably due to my firewall. It claims to get the proxy information from IE but I don't think its working yet.

    3. Half of the bands that I look for aren't on iTMS. Most of them refused to participate. Again, very annoying.
  • Does anyone know if the windows itunes will work with the MAC 5gb ipod?

    I would just try it, but I don't have a firewire card.

    Thanks.
  • by Phroggy (441) * <slashdot3@nosPAm.phroggy.com> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @12:11PM (#7254201) Homepage
    Apple makes money selling music on the iTunes music store. Probably not much money yet, but certainly they will make considerably more money if they don't restrict users to the Mac platform.

    Actually they make no money [appleturns.com] on the iTMS at the moment. It exists primarily to sell iPods, which do make money.

    With the advent of iTunes for Windows, the iTunes Music Store became the largest distributor of online music overnight.

    Wrong. According to Jobs, citing Nielsen I think, it was already the largest distributor of online music, with 70% market share, before the advent of iTunes for Windows.
  • Tags (Score:5, Informative)

    by CptChipJew (301983) * <michaelmiller@gm a i l . com> on Sunday October 19, 2003 @02:36PM (#7255074) Homepage Journal
    as Apple apparently uses its own tag format

    Apple uses ID3 v2.4 [id3.org] (which added album artwork support).

    Your other media players are written by companies that apparently don't care about standards.

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