iTunes: The Reason I Do Not Own a Mac

Yesterday I wrote about something that Dennis Kennedy called presumptuous computing. One of the things that Dennis commented on in his post was iTunes.

The scariest message that I get on my computer these days is that there is a new version of iTunes and would I like to install it? The “improvements” always disrupt my ways of organizing and handling my files, although they seem to make it much easier if you only use the iTunes store. This is one of the only programs I’ve decided not to stay current on updates.

After reading Dennis’s post, I realized that iTunes, is one of the principal reasons that I have never seriously considered purchasing a Mac. I don’t hate Macs. They are nice machines. Just about everyone that I know that has one, absolutely loves it. In fact, I have always thought that Macs do not have users, they have evangelists.

Grant Griffiths, one of the most enthusiastic Mac supports around says:

There really is no reason for a law firm to not make the move to the Mac. Both the hardware and operating system are so much better than anything you can get from a windoze box.

After using iTunes, however, I am not convinced that Macs are “so much better” than Windows machines. In fact, using the program, reinforces the idea that Macs have the same drawbacks as Windows.

First, everyone in the world complains about how Microsoft bundles internet explorer into its operating system. Why is no one complaining about the fact that Apple bundles QuickTime with iTunes? What is it about me wanting to watch a QuickTime video that makes Apple think that I want to use iTunes? I should be able to install either one of these programs, not have to install both.
Second, why is iTunes so slow? Mac enthusiasts talk about how slick and simple their hardware and software is. If that is the case, why is it that it takes forever (in computer time) for my iTunes to work. Changing between items in my library and the iTunes store should be virtually instantaneous, not take seconds.

Third, why is the iTunes store so difficult to navigate? I own several episodes of various television shows. Why is there no way to go from the listing of those shows in my library to that show’s iTunes store? Instead, I have to go the iTunes store and search for what I am looking for.

Fourth, why are the incremental “updates” for iTunes 50MB? Hello? Is there anyone home at Apple? 50MB is not an incremental update, it’s a program. Then, to make things worse, after I download the 50MB incremental update today, I know that in a couple of weeks, Apple is going to have another stupid 50MB update.

I know that some people will claim that an incrimental iTunes update is no big deal. Therefore I have decided to chronicle my installation.

  1. I am currently running iTunes version When I start iTunes, I am told that an update is available. I chose to install the update.
  2. iTunes opens my web browser and takes me to the iTunes web site.
  3. I select my operating system.
  4. I uncheck the box giving Apple permission to send me an annoying email every Tuesday.
  5. I uncheck the box giving Apple permission to “Keep me up to date with Apple news, software updates, and the latest information on products and services.”
  6. I enter my email address.
  7. I select the download button.
  8. I spend the next 3 minutes on a T1 line downloading the stupid “update,” which is 47.6MB.
  9. I double click on the executable file.
  10. I get a message telling me that I will need to restart Outlook after I install iTunes. I am not quite sure why this is the case. I very rarely listen to music through my email program.
  11. I had to wait while iTunes “validated” my installation.This must be difficult. It took several minutes to do.
  12. After the installation, I had to cancel that instance of QuickTime that was running.
  13. I had to disable the startup file that starts QuickTime when my computer reboots. Apparently the fact that I have disabled this every other time that I have installed the program is not a sufficient basis for Apple to conclude that I do not want QuickTime to start every time I turn on my computer.
  14. I complete the installation, 21 minutes later.

OK, it’s now 21 minutes after I have started, I downloaded a 47.6MB file, all so that I could upgrade from version to WTF?

This isn’t elegance or simplicity. It’s asinine.

I will admit, that I don’t know that all Mac programs work like this. The reality however, is that iTunes is the best method for Apple to reach Windows users. Apple, however, will never gain Windows converts when their programs are just as bloated and slow as Windows programs. If other Mac programs are not like this, then Apple should be devoting some serious research to improving the Windows version of iTunes.

13 thoughts on “iTunes: The Reason I Do Not Own a Mac

  1. I have to say that is not the experience with iTunes on a Mac. It runs fast and seamless. And you can go from a selection in iTunes to the Store. Look for the little arrow.

    As for windoze programs on a Mac. The only Microsoft program I have on my Mac is Word. And you know, that is the only program that locks up on my Mac.

    I have also discovered that no matter how much better the Mac hardward, OSX and software is, there will always be those that simply will not switch. And that is fine.

  2. I have a mac and can’t stand having to use iTunes in Windows on my wife’s machine. It most certainly doesn’t run in any manner like iTunes does on the Mac nor like any program on the mac. I think it’s odd behvior and large downloads have more to do with Windows’ API than in how Apple wants the program to run. It is simply the best they can do when coding for what is really a faulty OS.

  3. I guess that it’s good that iTunes works better on a Mac than a PC.

    On the Mac, does the update still require you to download a 50MB file?

  4. Yes, but it takes no time at all. I’m no expert, but it’s my impression (from my knowledge of common sense coding and how well iTunes works) that the large updates replace some of the existing code, so even though you’re downloading fifty megabytes, and iTunes is increasing slightly in girth, it doesn’t grow by fifty megabytes.

    I’ve just done the obvious and checked iTunes itself, and it’s a mere 89.5 megabytes. Given how comprehensive most of the updates have been, their size makes sense. So yes, you still download the fifty megabytes, but iTunes doesn’t bloat because of it (I’ve seen some Windows applications that save all their patches in a separate folder, so while you have the additional freedom of reverting to a past version, they do get large.) If you were on a dial-up connection, this would be a problem, but for anything better, it’s smooth and quick and OS X takes care of the rest with ease.

    I agree with you that iTunes is a bit presumptuous. However, for those of us who like easy tools for mass managing huge libraries of music–iTunes lets you import whole directories at once–it’s better than most other things. I used to use WinAMP, because it gave me a lot of freedom, but with the volume of files I’ve accumulated since then, I’d rather have my iTunes library.

    You might as well not use iTunes on Windows, but if you ever get a Mac, it will likely become a trusted companion. Just don’t expect foreign software on a clunky platform to perform like it does on its home turf. Also, keep posting. I love your blog.

  5. Regarding issue 1, you need QuickTime to watch those TV shows of yours.

    Regarding issue 2, it’s fast on my Mac and my PC. How old is your PC?

    Regarding issue 3, you can go directly from your TV show to that show’s page in the iTunes store. Just click the little arrow.

    Regarding issue 4, you could turn off the updater. On a Mac, the updates are easier to manage because Apple controls the whole environment. So there’s a reason to switch. But anyway, 50MB is a drop in the bucket nowadays.

  6. Updates are horrible. I’m an IT pro and I have over 80 pc’s to update. Anytime I see this update I cringe. I know its an all day event!! They at least need an to have admin updates so you can update all systems in your enviroment from one download instead of having to update each pc. (I work-around and find the update and save it to my servers so I dont have to download 80+ times) Installing updates for College Instructors is time consuming enough. Every other program that we have allows you to download once and install on your entire enviroment. Come on Apple, get with the program!!!!

  7. Itunes is not slower on windows because windows is a faulty OS, it’s slower because Mac apps are not easy to port on different platforms. Remember that Windows is designed to run on many different types of hardware, with most hardware constructors not always respecting all norms or using their own closed-source drivers. You would not have had the widespread availability of various affordable hardware without the multi-hardware work of Microsoft – despite the OS bugs.

    Apple’s business plan is to have top notch products with software as the direct extension of their hardware for a smooth user experience. This is tailored to the need of the average user of these programs. However, to achieve this Mac has thrown out the window all precepts of open source, cross platform programming and products that can be enhanced by the user.

    You simply cannot state that mac software and operating systems are “better”, they can only be more practical when you can use them the way Apple wants you to use them. If you need to do anything more than what they want you to do, well good luck…

    Buying Apple is fine, you will get a quality product, but just remember that the bigger Apple gets, the more we are reverting to a system where a big entity can control your computing habits at will.

  8. First, let me begin by saying that I do not own a Mac. That being out of the way, this is a ridiculous article. You are judging a computer by ONE program? Unrepresentative samples do not a solid argument make. Go back to the drawing board with this one.

  9. I agree with the point, though not the tone, of the last comment: its a bit much to to say you wouldn’t own a mac simply because of Itunes. Having said that, the program does suck large on windows. I think this makes Apple look bad regardless of the underlying reason for the problem. My guess is that Apple has made a decision not to make Itunes for Windows a research priority because if they had I think they could make a better program even if they had to strip some of the features found in macs or re-write the whole thing from scratch. Why hasn’t Apple made this a priority, not sure, maybe they are just busy with their other awsome products, or maybe they think ignoring investing in anything to do with Windows is good policy, something which I would disagree with.

    One last comment on this general mac user evangelist phenomenum. It might well be that on average macs and the mac OS are/is way better than pc’s and Windows. But the belief that if you don’t buy a mac you’re somehow an idiot for not realizing the obvious truth is being silly. There are many valid reasons why a person would buy a pc over a mac even if the latter are on average much better (which I’m not saying is the case, though it looks like it). Let me name a few: there are only a handful of mac laptops which means you can’t have a touch screen if that’s your thing or a laptop under one pound, or a laptop with a particular type of keyboard or mousepad style, etc. The fact is Apple runs a monopoly and therefore you pretty much have to use one of their very limited number of laptop configurations to use their OS. Some people just like the fact that they can build their own laptops/computers to their exact specifications. Other reasons are of course price, compatibility with work programs or programs you have grown acustumed to using. Finally, for some people it’s just not worth the trouble of switching and having to learn a new OS (i.e. e person who only uses a laptop to type emails on outllok and surf the net may not really benifit from switching to the better mac for twice the price).

    So we’re clear this has nothign to do with Apple, I think they have done an amazing job of product development and even better one of branding their users into believing that having a mac is being cool, alternative, enlightened, the only way to be.

  10. Whole heartedly agree with this post. I’m installing itunes as we speak so I can set up this iphone my girlfriend wanted. Firstly as a sidenote.. why the hell do I need itunes to set up a damned cell phone? Ok now back on track. So far I’m at minute 22 installing this stupid app with no end in sight. And before someone says “how old is your PC?” I’m rocking an i7 with 12gb of DDR3 and dual geforce 280 GTXs. My computer is top of the line. Explain to me why it takes longer to install itunes than it does to install the ENTIRE Adobe CS4 Master Collection? Because apple is teh sux0r. That’s why. Fuck apple.

  11. The comment that the author made re not wanting to buy a Mac because of iTunes is certainly not “a bit much”. I completely agree. Using iTunes for my iPhone has made me very hesitant about buying a Mac, whereas previously I was convinced that my next laptop would def be a Mac. I am currently about to start hunting for a new laptop and I am so confused. I do not wan another buggy PC yet my terrible personal experiences with iTunes have really put me off Macs.

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