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  10-24-03 | This column originally appeared in the Houston Chronicle.


The Day Hell Froze Over: iTunes for Windows


By Bob LeVitus

If you're a Mac user, today's epistle may not mean much to you. On the other hand, I've got some very good news for Windows users. Did you hear that hell froze over last week? No, the Eagles aren't touring again—it's bigger than that. If you don't know what I'm babbling about, you must not have seen Apple's Web site this week. If you had, you'd surely have seen this, in big, bold type:

Hell froze over.
Introducing iTunes for Windows.
The best Windows app ever. Download iTunes with the new second generation Music Store.
For Mac and Windows.

Unlikely as it might seem, Apple released iTunes for Windows last week, modestly referring to it as the best Windows app ever. Now, Windows users can now enjoy the iTunes application, purchase songs at the iTunes Music Store, and store thousands of songs in their pockets with the greatest digital music player ever, the iPod, just like we (the Mac people) do.

At the product launch last Thursday, Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, said, "The iTunes Music Store has revolutionized the way people legally buy music online, and now it's available to tens of millions more music lovers with iTunes for Windows. While our competitors haven't even come close to matching our first generation, we're already releasing the second generation of the iTunes Music Store for Mac and Windows."

So Windows users don't have to settle for pale imitations of iTunes Music Store ( or inferior software (Windows Media Player) any longer nor be ensnared by draconian digital rights management (both). Apple is giving you the real deal.

Now Windows users can enjoy Apple's best-of-class personal use rights for purchased music and fabled 99 cents-per-song pricing. And the second generation iTunes Music Store offers new features like gift certificates, a nifty online "Allowance" for your kids, and almost twice as much music as before—more than 400,000 songs from all five major music companies and over 200 independent labels.

Being your humble servant, I downloaded the Windows version immediately and took a look (using Virtual PC on my Mac, of course—I don't own a real Windows box). I'm no Windows expert but it seemed exactly like the Mac OS X version we know and love, right down to the faux brushed chrome interface. And I have to admit, it's almost as elegant running under Windows as it is running under Mac OS X. A little uglier, perhaps, but functionally very similar.

Real Windows users apparently agree; the reviews I've seen on the Web have been mostly positive. This quip, from a review on Slashdot ( by "michael," pretty much sums things up: "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."

And it's taking off, big-time. According to Jobs, "iTunes users have purchased over one million songs in the first three and a half days since our launch last Thursday, which compares with one million songs in the first seven days when we introduced the original iTunes for Mac users last April. We're off to a great start, and our competition isn't even out of the starting gates yet."

I never thought I'd be writing a column about a Windows application, but I want Windows users to be aware that they can now enjoy the same great digital music experience Mac users have been raving about.

And, of course, like the Mac version, iTunes for Windows is free.

iTunes for Windows. Free.
Apple Computer, Inc. Cupertino, CA

Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on Mac OS and the author of 41 books, including The Little iTunes Book and Mac OS X for Dummies, 2nd Edition. E-mail comments to [email protected].

Copyright © 2004 Bob LeVitus




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