The problem with iTunes and Windows 8
According to the chief financial officer of Windows -- what, your company doesn't have a product-level CFO? -- Microsoft has laid out the welcome mat for iTunes for Windows 8, but Apple has yet to come a knocking. Why ever could that be?
I was asked recently on Twitter why the Mac App Store wasn't bundled into the desktop iTunes app the way the iOS App Store is, and so many other things are. I don't know the official rationale, but my immediate instinct was -- because it's the Mac App Store, and that means it doesn't have to be ported to Windows. And if it doesn't have to get ported to Windows, it doesn't have to go into iTunes.
After all, iTunes is the only major piece of software Apple currently ports to Windows. Safari for Windows, after a brief, uneventful life, has gone missing in action, and QuickTime and the various iCloud and iOS management utilities are just that -- utilities. iLife doesn't get ported. Pro tools don't get ported. Just iTunes.
Steve Jobs once called iTunes for Windows a glass of water in hell. I've joked it was revenge for Office on Mac. Really it was a business necessity in the pre-post-PC world. iPods -- and eventually iPhones and iPads -- needed iTunes on the desktop to purchase, manage, and sync media and apps, the vast majority of computers ran Windows, and so iTunes had to run on Windows.
And that screwed it over for everyone. Apple, in their infinitely looped wisdom, decided it would be easier for them to port, and easier for us to use, a single, monolithic iTunes app than anything more specific or distributed, a single jack-of-all-trades app, wrapped up for easy transplant, rather than several masters of one carefully cut apart and crafted. And as iOS grew, and new content types like apps and iBooks, and new use cases, like Wi-Fi sync grew, iTunes on both Mac and Windows grew (and grew).
Absent the need to port to Windows, we get the light, purpose-built Mac App Store. On iOS get separate iTunes Store, Music and Video apps, we get a separate App Store, and we get separate iBooks, Podcasts, and iTunes U apps. We get many little shots of water that aren't anywhere nearly as hellish. iTunes desktop isn't so easily reinvented. So it's being obsoleted.
In a post-PC world, a lot of the jobs formerly required of iTunes on the desktop have been pushed up into the iCloud. You can pretty much setup, manage, fill, and sync a new iOS device, out of the box, without ever once plugging it into iTunes on the desktop. (I don't think I've synced with iTunes on the desktop even once since the iPhone 4S launched with iOS 5 in October of 2011.)
Sure, transferring big media files and moving around large numbers of icons are still painful in the wireless world, but that's something Apple can and needs to fix, and inevitably it won't be by going back to the iTunes desktop.
There's a reason why the iPad doesn't run iTunes desktop, and why you can't download iTunes desktop from the iOS app store. You can't tether an iPhone to an iPad for device management purposes. iOS didn't need no stinking iTunes desktop. And it's the same reason why Windows 8 probably won't get a "Metro" version of iTunes desktop either.
Microsoft is still dominant-beyond-dominant in the PC market, but the PC market isn't as important as it used to be. New iOS customers, the kind who are drawn to things like Windows 8 "Metro", are probably also drawn to online services like iCloud, Dropbox, Skydrive, Spotify, Netflix, etc. and they'll do just fine without traditional iTunes ported and portly on the Surface RT. Mainstream customers, the kind who are sticking with Windows XP or Windows 7, are also likely sticking with iTunes desktop, and they'll be just fine with traditional iTunes running as a traditional desktop app.
iTunes for Mac is in the midst of a transition. It's not impossible to see where it's going over the next few years, and it's not the stodgy old desktop we all know and love to hate. It's going somewhere new. If an how iTunes for Windows goes with it will depend on Windows' importance in the post-PC world. Maybe iTunes will become more an iCloud-powered player than device management game.
That Microsoft has re-discovered the tablet market is nice. That they're experimenting with mix-mode devices is interesting. But Metro probably doesn't need full-blown iTunes any more than iOS does, and the Windows 8 Store probably won't get old-style iTunes much faster than the App Store will get old-style Office.
The world has changed.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
I agree, mainstream users shouldn't need to use iTunes on a desktop anymore, and also most mainstream users aren't running Windows 8. it's not worth Apple's time making iTunes run on Windows 8, but also if people on Windows 8 are that desperate and need iTunes that badly, they can buy a Mac.
Are there refinements to be made? Yep!
Can it get even better? Yep!
Should it possibly be broken down to separate media apps? Not in my opinion.
I own Android devices. As well as iOS. Google does a fine job with android...and backing up. But when it comes to pure media management, there isn't an alternative to iTunes on ANY platform. Hence the reason folks a lot smarter than you and I are clambering for a Metro version of iTunes. To them, it could make or break a Fortune 500 business;) J
However...if you're into sharing your library in home...streaming movies to Apple TV, storing books, watching university professors in iTunes U---grabbing a ringtone or the latest Britney Spears album...it's all there. It's easy to find, it runs clean and efficiently on a Mac...not sure who you 'hang' with...to not enjoy your experience in iTunes is akin to the idea of nostalgia and WinAmp, or any of the other goofy free-ware we used in the 90s....riddled with 'issues' and 'challenges' when it came to the UI, transferring to your 'MP3' players...decoding or encoding different codecs....ugh!!!
Look...I don't wanna sound like an iTunes evangelist...even though I do;)
The point I wanted to make...it is indeed popular. And mainly by choice. Others have come and gone...none have stuck. Google, Android, Amazon...they all have media organization and cloud options for your media...yet their user-ship pales in comparison. No one NEEDS iTunes. Folks choose to use it...and for the most part....outside of the coder, wannabe 'developer', spider feeding community...most folks enjoy their iTunes experience. Again...I do want to say, as I did earlier...there's always room for improvement. In my world...as a mobile entertainment company owner of 22 years...iTunes has literally changed my business...along with iOS devices and the ability to organize and sync my music. We use it as our 'foundation' for Traktor and Serato. Much like iPhoto works for organization....when you need to professionally 'play' music or want deeper options...MOST big developers incorporate iTunes as the 'base' software for your library. Always simply integrated....and ALWAYS an intuitive way again, to access your media.
If you have specific complaints about it...be specific. What is it that makes it an unenjoyable experience? J
Unable to play video files that aren't mp4 and .mov.
Unable to sync pdfs or document files to my iPhone.
Unable to to sync photo folders outside of the Pictures folder or iPhoto.
Once it loses it's connection to an iDevice that is plugged in, it takes 10 steps to get it to re-find the device if it ever does. Usually takes computer rebooting to find it again.
Unable to sync with third party storage programs like Dropbox that would save users a lot of headache. Ultimately all these points are moot though since I no longer need to use iTunes any longer to use my phone...wait, no, I want to watch a couple episodes of Firefly that I ripped onto my harddrive. Damn, the files are .mkv files. Now I have to open up a file converter to get them to play on my iDevice. I don't know anyone who buys media anymore. They all pay to watch it and then move on; Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc. The idea of "ownership" is fading fast and Apple is grasping tooth and nail to keep people connected to iTunes to keep making that all important dollar instead of being progressive like those companies I listed. And yes, you do sound like an evangelist. I imagine a saucer-eyed 13 year old girl staring fondly at her iTunes, wishing she could marry it :P And yes, everyone needs iTunes if they choose to use an iDevice. It's just a reality. If you have songs on your computer that you want on your device, you have to have iTunes. Nothing on my computer gives me the feeling of "enjoyment." I don't take pleasure in using my computer. It's a tool to help me communicate with others and make art. Do you enjoy your steering wheel? Do painters enjoy holding the brush? These are tools that allow us to do other things, they either work or they don't. For me there isn't much of an in between and iTunes has never really worked the way I want it to which is why I only use it for uploading one playlist and TV shows/Movies. I use Spotify, Netflix and Hulu for the rest and Dropbox for file management.
I'm a vinyl geek. Over 5,000 albums...and done picking up more, other than a rarity once in a while or a trip to Amoeba records in San Fran! I mentioned in my earlier post how I pay my mortgage...I, too, rely on my computers to make money. iTunes is truly @ the Heart of my business though...and I've run it for 22 years now....a time I was humping milk crates filled with vinyl. Other than Thriller, Zep 4 and the Eagles Greatest Hits....there were 2, maybe three tracks per album that were 'playable'. From there...we transitioned to cassettes for 'mix' tracks and playback...to the venerable CD, and now digital. iTunes simply 'stores' our library. It's perfect for that concept. Whether it's SFX, presidential speeches...SNL audio clips or "Call Me Maybe"....all of my audio, stored nice and neat...in order and backed up with iTunes Match. I'm also a fan of movies. Like you. Before I had my kids...I would buy the 'new' Tuesday DVD just for Sh'ts n Grins. Now...easily ripped into a shared drive, nicely compressed, I've managed to set up nearly 1,000 DVDs for in home sharing or on the road loading. (I no longer, like you...buy movies unless it's the rare over the top BluRay I've got to have....I, too, enjoy Netflix, Spotify, MOG and Hulu +). I'm an avid fan of iTunes U....love watching 'Harvard' coding classes;). PDFs? Seriously? If you have ANY type of PDF app on your iOS device, you can easily share between devices...but I much prefer DropBox for this type of service. Never really thought of iTunes as a PDF repository. Again...it's iTunes. Why are you trying to sync 'pictures'? Do you have a Mac? Why NOT use iPhoto or Aperture? ....or Photo Stream??? Not sure what you mean by losing connection to an iDevice. I've got a half dozen 'working' Macs...3 iMacs, 3 MBPs (all 2011/2012 models...maybe that's the difference?). These are specific to our mobile audio/video business and are solely used for live performances. Never EVER had an issue maintaining 'sync'. And if it's THAT paramount to NOT lose your connection...you can easily plug it in via USB. These days, it's not like the old days...you aren't limited to one computer to sync to. You can manually manage your music, your media for that matter....specific playlists to sync, ringtones, only a few of your books---iTunes can be a nice repository for your apps if you are an app 'junkie' family as we are....and if you're worried an 'old' app may disappear. This also eliminates the need when you get a new iOS device to eliminate downloading all of your apps back to the phone, music, etc. Just plug it in to the computer and set it up. It seems to me either A) You're using a Windows computer and iTunes....to that I cannot speak intelligently. I only use Macs these days, including our personal computers. Or B) It's been a while since you've used iTunes.....OR you need a refresher course on how to use iTunes! I'm not sure you understand just how much iTunes/iPod/iPhone/iOS devices in their entirety have CHANGED to music industry. Not necessarily for the best. It's all opinion...again, I listen to vinyl;). Not to mention the fact that iTunes/App Store included could themselves be Fortune 500 companies. They're MONSTERS!!!! Apple is definitely NOT grasping tooth and nail to keep folks connected to iTunes. It's the default/go-to media organizer. Nothing competes. And again...I declare your ignorance in the statement that 'everyone needs iTunes if they choose to use an iDevice'. That's Bull Sh!t. I'm not sure if you're simply out of 'tune'---pardon the pun....or simply that far removed from using the software lately...either iTunes or an iOS device...but since iOS 5.0, no longer is iTunes necessary. At. All. Everyone gets a free iCloud account with ample storage. From there, everything---including the 'way you have your apps organized' is stored. Everything. When you buy a new one...turn it on, log in, and let it do it's job. Pending how many apps, contacts and birthdays you've got loaded---you're up-n-running in literally minutes, and your phone is an identical duplicate of your last...without the need to EVER plug in to iTunes. Yes...plenty of times my computer gives me feelings of 'enjoyment'. I'm a 42 year old married father or 3. Not a 13 year old saucer-eyed girl. I've been involved in the tech industry for 25 years now....and to this day, I enjoy everything about technology. To ME, there's something STILL very special about buying a new Retina MacBook Pro...a new iPhone, a new iPad....the new iTunes 11 update. I still get excited....but you're right, the steering wheel in my truck does not get me going. My tools on the other hand.... ;) If you seriously need some tutelage on iTunes, I'm willing to lend you a hand. It's actually VERY powerful software...and with a couple of plug-ins, it's simple to use. Learn a couple of key pad short cuts....you may just be surprised at how good a 'tool' it can actually be. Especially if you pick up a couple of 'pucks' for around the house (Apple TV). Grab an old iMac off Craigslist, add a couple of external TB drives, throw it in the crawlspace as your media server...you'll be set!!! Not only with Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu +, but all of the content YOU own from your CDs to your DVDs, BluRays to your photos....I can lend you a hand. Not sure how we would Private message each other, but I don't mind giving you my Twitter handle;) If you're too proud to ask for help, Sorry....but if that's the case, you shouldn't spout such drivel and expect to not be shown 'The Truth!' ;) You're right---I AM an Evangelist!!! Damn!!!!!
If you Have Windows, then you can get WALTR and this app can easily transfer all the needed media to iOS device :P
The problem is actually there's no iTunes for Windows 8 RT, not Windows 8. iTunes works with Windows 8, but on the desktop mode, since iTunes 11.0.2.
And also, I suspect the problem is more technical. iTunes heavily use WebKit, specially for iTunes Store and iTunes LP, meanwhile Windows RT doesn't allow any web rendering engine, except Trident (IE rendering engine); more or less the same iOS only allow UIWebView as web rendering engine.
1. Download the following software: http://www.syncios.com/
2. Install syncios in your windows 8 pc or laptop
3. Open syncios, if a message appears saying you have to close Itunes, dismiss it.
4. Open Itunes, and it should recognized your Ipod now. Note: You have to do this every time you need to conect your Ipod to the computer. Good Luck everyone