It appears that iTunes 5.0 really is a killer app - in that it is killing many a person's PC. However, Apple's new modified version of iTunes (5.0.1?) seems to be repairing the damage at least for most users.
The details are still sketchy, partly because the range of problems is so broad. A quick look on Apple's message board hints at the extent of the problems. (You can also find a lively discussion on the iPodlounge site.) From my quick perusal and discussions, I've identified a few of the major problems:
- Inability to access the iTunes music library (including purchased tracks from the iTunes store).
- Damage to the QuickTime application, which must be installed as part of the iTunes install. (It upgrades, or tries to upgrade, to QuickTime 7, but you may end up with no QuickTime at all, and no ability to roll back to the earlier version.)
- Inability to access the Internet or even your own local network. (No kidding!)
- Inability to install other new programs because of errors with the Windows installer.
I experienced the last problem briefly on a test machine, but was able to fix it by uninstalling and re-installing QuickTime.
Most disturbing, Apple has taken virtually no action to warn customers. From its introduction until today, Apple merrily touted iTunes 5.0 as a great new upgrade, with nary a word of warning on the download page. Customers only found a subtle mention of it if you go to the forums page.
Though I probably should, I have never gone to a software forum to look for problems about an application before updating it.
Apparently it also is not generally possible to use Windows System restore to undo the problem. It seems that whatever iTunes 5 did went deeper into the system than the items that System restore can undo.
I learned much of this from Lauren Weinstein of the Electronic Entertainment Policy Initiative who posted what has at least become an open letter on the issue over a week ago. Lauren is particularly alarmed by a program in iTunes 5 called Bonjour, which is used to manage licenses for purchased music for PCs on a network. Initially, at least, customers had no choice to deselect Bonjour from the iTunes 5.0 installation. Though some users on Apple's forum are reporting that iTunes 5.0.1 leaves Bonjour out.
Software glitches do happen. But the extent of the problems hints that Apple may not have done very thorough quality checking before releasing this code. (Perhaps there was too much pressure to include this in the Steve Jobs's big press event announcing the iPod Nano and iTunes-Motorola phone?) And it's frightening how Apple appeared to ignore or deny the problem for so long.
I think Lauren Weinstein described it well when he told me:
It doesn't take rocket science - It doesn't even take computer science - to see that this wasn't handled well.