10 years ago today Apple shipped iTunes for Windows, and hell froze over

10 years ago today Apple shipped iTunes for Windows, and hell froze over

10 years ago today iTunes shipped for Windows. Slightly more than 10 years ago, an argument rippled through the ranks of Apple over whether or not to do just that - to make their new music platform accessible to their rival's all-but-eclipsing computing platform, or to keep Apple's iPod unique to Apple's Mac. Chris Fralic excerpting from Max Chafkin's Design Crazy:

We argued with Steve a bunch [about putting iTunes on Windows], and he said no. Finally, Phil Schiller and I said 'we're going to do it.' And Steve said, 'F--k you guys, do whatever you want. You're responsible.' And he stormed out of the room." - John Rubenstein

I always figured iTunes for Windows was revenge for Office Mac, but history has shown the incredible benefits that came from that decision: Dominance of the digital music industry and a gateway to the most profitable business Apple has ever known, the iPhone and iPad.

Not a bad thing to be responsible for, is it?

Source: Design Crazy via Chris Fralic, Daring Fireball

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

10 years ago today Apple shipped iTunes for Windows, and hell froze over


I 100% agree. One of the first iPods brought me into the world of apple and I've never looked back (minus a little two year fling with android phones). I can't imagine using anything else. Hard to believe that iTunes for windows was so close to not ever happening.

Me either. It started with the iPhone. I loved it so much I got an ipad. Then when my PC broke I got a mac. Been the best products I have ever owned.

I went the opposite route. Had they allowed users to transfer files to the iPod like a regular mass storage device, I would've bought one a long time ago. But iTunes on Windows is a huge ass burger and a bloated POS. (I've heard it's better on Macs, but I have no way of knowing.) The only reason I ever got an iPhone is because they stopped requiring the use of iTunes to activate them.

Uhhh. I used my iPod as a storage device all the time????..... Am I missing something here?

yeah, you can TOTALLY use an ipod as a file storage device. It shows up in windows explorer as a hard drive and you could just drag and drop any file to it. Maybe he didn't know how.

I saw that headline, was curious and downloaded iTunes for Windows. Liked it and ended up getting my first iPod shortly after, a 10GB 3rd gen (with the light-up touch buttons) that still boots up last I checked. And yes, the rest was history. :-)

I remember getting a new computer as a gift to get me a bit more into the modern times than what my 500Mhz iBook G3 ("iceBook dual USB) could accomplish.

My family knew I was a Mac user and had only delved into OS X on 10.2 but the largest surprise was a huge Gateway notebook that was on Windows XP and also a retail box version of Office XP professional.

I didn't want to reject the gift but made the best of it. It had a battery eating Pentium 4HT desktop class CPU which on a full charge lasted three hours at best with just using Microsoft Word. I did make it into a useable computer which was amazingly quick at the cost of all things a portable was meant for and it couldn't game as it was stuck with an awful Intel GME graphics chip. The dedicated 8MB ATi Rage Mobility on my old iBook was still far superior.

The thing it was just a silly happenstance was Apple releasing iTunes for Windows and on my old third generation iPod, did get transfers to the iPod via a FireWire adapter were faster than my old PPC iBook which I still kept for somewhat regular use.

The first iTunes releases on Windows were a bit sketchy and due to file system rules between OS X and Windows was a nightmare having to rename or re-rip many of my CD's due to characters that still are not allowed for use in the Windows world.

When I finally had the money saved, I bought a new iBook G4 which was so much faster at some things but got lucky when Apple allowed me to return the G4 for the newly released MacBook.

I've never gone back to another PC since then for personal use. Of course I had iTunes library issues coming from Windows back to OS X but the wait was well worth it.

I've tried my best writing drivers for the Gateway to become a Hackintosh but got everything but sound since the Audio hardware had so little documentation on it. I caved in and put Windows back on it and sold it to fund updated software for the Mac.

Them putting iTunes on windows helped me to go into the world of macs and never turn back. If I couldn't do anything with an iPhone on my windows PC I wouldn't have became a fan of the then iPhoneOS which nudged to my first MacBook. The rest has been history after that

Like how Rene points out in the article, releasing iTunes on Windows was a major step in ensuring the success of the iPod and Apple's digital music distribution. The percentage of people using Windows compared to those using the Mac hasn't changed a lot over the last 10 years. They HAD to gain mindspace over people still using Windows.

Incidentally, it was RealPlayer 10 "Harmony" technology that led me to buy my first iPod. At that time, the RealPlayer Music Store was selling 192Kbps AAC files. Harmony allowed them to be transferred to an iPod. In 2006 I made the switch to the Mac, and now use Apple products exclusively.

Well, if they ever wanted to overcome niche-status like the Mac, they had to release it for Windows. People loved the iPod, but they weren't going to give up the productivity of their Windows PCs for it.