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iTunes Music Store for Windows is here!

Revised on

Originally posted on October 19th, 2003

Man Alive! This is really really ultra cool!

Apple once again has pulled another big fat happy rabbit right out'a Steve Job's hat!

Okay you music thiefs: Now you don't have an excuse to ripoff the middle men fat cat record corps. C'mon... Snoop Dogg needs a new ride!

Everything's there; music, audiobooks, playlists, radio stations, meta tagging, file sharing, syncing with your ipod, burning CD and DVD disks, AAC support, everything... well, almost.

Apple these days is just oozing and seeping with fantastic ideas these days. Where did they find these guys? Who cares. As long as they keep tickling us with toys likes this (yes this is a toy) I'm sold and my dead presidents love to travel.

I am a 100% Windows Media Player (ver. 9) advocate. In my humble opinion, WMP9 was one of the best digital content delivery systems for the PC. I wonder if Billy over at M$ has his rearview mirror laying on the floor of his Lexus because the Apple stealth marketing juggernaut is gonna blow his doors off if he doesn't look over his shoulder. I'll never forget the time I was driving to NEC a few years back on hwy. 280 here in California (280mph is the speed limit) and this little red dot appeared in my rearview mirror. Before I knew it I felt my little VW VR6 GTi shake left then right as if I drove over a pothole as a fuzzy red blur streaked by my drivers side window. The next thing I knew that little red dot was in front on the horizon...


Back to my review...

Within minutes of downloading and installing the 19.5 megabyte iTunes download I found myself perusing the listings in the audiobooks section, then the Electronic section (i like electronic Groove Salad type music nowadays).The first thing I noticed is the striking similarity of the appearance of iTunes for Windows compared to the Apple version on my G4. It looks and feels the same (duh i know). Everything is very clear and easy to find.

Right after I finished loading it, iTunes wanted to scan the My Music folder to add my music to it's library. I was a little skeptical at first because I read about Apple implanting DRM (Digital Rights Management) inside iTunes for Windows. DRM puts limits on how you can move your songs around. How many times you can burn a CD, copy to another computer etc. I have all my music backed up to DVD on my Sony GRV-680 so I didn't care at this point. I was wrapped up in that new toy feeling and wanted to go forth and experience this changing moment in the computer arena.

After that was finished I played around in my Library for a while. I made a sample Playlist and I looked in the Radio Stations section so see what was offered. To my amazement, my favorite Internet broadcast station ( Groove Salad / ) was right there in 3 flavors of streams for me. Oh yeah.

Then I thought, here I go... I'm gonna see what I can download. I heard that songs are .99 cents. I couldn't wait to check it out then... it happened...

Symantec Stops Me Cold!

The moment I clicked on the Music Store icon I got this friendly message...

"We could not complete your Music Store request. There is not enough memory available."

I'm reminded of the old Apple Macintosh's when it didn't know the cause of an error and you'd see Error Type 1 on the screen... following in true Apple tradition, this error misdirects you to think you don't have enough memory... fault = 50% Apple 50% Symantec. Read on...

I clicked a few more times and didn't get anywhere... at first I thought maybe all those millions of PC users were clogging up all those little Apple servers. Then it occurred to me... Symantec! I have DSL at home and not only do I run a Linksys firewall but I also have Norton Internet Security 2003 running... I right-clicked on the little green globe on my taskbar and temporarily disabled it. I then clicked on the Music Store icon again and I was in! I've had issues with NIS before and this was an easy fix.

All you do is double-click on the little green globe in your taskbar and that'll pop up the NIS dialog box. From there click on Personal Firewall and then on Configure. Click on the Program Control tab at the top. Now click on Add and point the explorer to C:\Program Files\iTunes\itunes.exe. That'll fix it. After you close this you can re-enable the NIS globe again by right clicking and then click on Enable.

The next thing you'll need {yes} is another ID for yet another website, Apples'. I already have one so I'm cool and ready....


Navigating iTunes

Click to enlarge...It's completely obvious to start searching and playing music and audio files. I made some playlists and sorted out a few songs in no time. WIT {Windows iTunes] is much simpler and easier to use than Windows Media Player (Sorry Bill, I switched).

Basically it's a menu driven dropdown list like in Windows Explorer when your drilling down looking for a file on your hard drive. The display looks like an excel spreadsheet with columns and rows. You have the capability of sorting by all columns; Song Name, Time, Artist, Album, Genre, My Rating, Play Count, and you can expand the details by turning on hidden columns like Bit Rate, Beats per Minute, Comment, etc.

One of the cool things I did right off the bat was make a shortcut on my desktop to my favorite Radio Station on the net so all I have to do was double-click it and it will open up WIT without my having to open WIT, then drill down the Radio Stations, then the station. Really cool thing.

Top left of the screen we have a very familiar interface known even to one armed, one eyed monkeys. Volume control at the bottom. Above that the Back, Play/Pause/Stop in the middle and Next at the end. Near the very top of this area we have File, Edit, Controls, Visualizer, Advanced and Help. The help section is very well written and I highly recommend you cruise around in there for a while to familiarize yourself.

There are four really handy buttons right at the lower left screen that enable you to Create a Playlist, Turn Shuffling On or Off, Play Playlist / Repeat a Playlist / or Repeat a Song, and Show or Hide Song Artwork.

On the lower right on the screen the are more buttons for the Equalizer, Visual Effects, and Ejecting the CD. The Equalizer has 20 some odd presets ranging from Acoustic to Vocal Booster. It would be kind'a cool if Apple could arrange it so that I could make a preset stick with each song. That way when a Classical score came on it would choose my preset for that and if a Rap song came on it would choose the preset for that, kind'a like a DJ environment.

Top right of the screen show you the Windows like control bar functions. This is most likely the only change from iTunes Mac. I wish Apple would've kept the more colorful buttons. Here we have the well know minimize button, the Skin Mode button and the Close or Exit Program button.

I did notice a slower response time resizing the iTunes window. It's kind'a jerky while any other window that I resize is very responsive feeling. This is the same on my G4. The windows seem just a little pokey when you resize them. It's a small thing thou. Something else to note and I don't know if this is a slap in the face of Windows but you can't resize the iTunes window with the other corners of the window. You can only resize it with the lower right grabber corner where the Apple programmers placed some grip lines so your thumb doesn't slip... You also can maximize the iTunes screen. Not by mouse or keyboard. I can usually hold the ALT+Spacebar and a mini menu will drop down and it does in iTunes but the Maximize selection is grayed out.


DRM - Digital Rights Management

DRM is designed to keep you a honest George Orwell drone. You don't own anything in the country. You license it kids. You gotta think of it as a drivers license. It can be taken away at any time by big brother. Either remember that or get a tattoo.

iTunes for Windows and as far as I can tell the Macintosh version use DRM with specially formatted music files called AACs. AACs are copy protected music files. No, they don't have AAC extensions like HappyBirthday.mp3, they consist of 2 formats. .m4p files are the ones you download from the Music Store and .m4a's are ripped or copied from CD. According to Apple, you are licensed to burn unlimited copies of your AAC music files to CDs but there are protections when you wanna put them somewhere else, like on the internet or your local network. If you Burn a CD with your AAC files all the copy protections are removed. Apple also says that you can only listen to AAC files with iTunes on a Mac or PC but a quick search on the net yielded me several plug-ins for Windows Media Player, Winamp and others so that's not true. If you copy songs from your CD collection to AAC there is no copy protection {for now anyway}.

Apple Terms of Sale (you better read this part)

Here's a story about a guy that got a little screwed over [by the Apple lawyers] because he didn't read his User Agreement.

Syncing with my iPod

I haven't tried it yet.

Syncing with other MP3 devices

Ditto, I have a Nomad in the store but I haven't tested it yet.


Michael Chukov

Playback shortcuts

> Play the selected song immediately Enter

Listen to the next or previous album in a list
Shift-Control-Alt-Right Arrow or Shift-Control-Alt-Left Arrow

Rewind or fast-forward to the next song in a list
Control-Left Arrow or Right Arrow or Control-click the Skip Forward or Skip Backward controls in the upper-left corner of the iTunes window


> Library and playlist shortcuts

Create a playlist from a selection of songs
Shift-click the Add (+) button (You can also drag the songs to the white area of the Source list.)

Create a new Smart Playlist
Shift-click the Add (+) button

Reshuffle the current playlist
Shift-click the Shuffle button

Delete the selected playlist from your Source list without confirming that you want to delete it

Delete the selected playlist and all the songs it contains from your library

Delete the selected song from your library and any playlists


> Music Store shortcuts

Go to the next page in the Music Store
Control-Right bracket (])

Go to the previous page in the Music Store
Control-Left bracket ([)


> File and window shortcuts

Check or uncheck all the songs in a list
Control-click the checkbox next to a song

Change the song information columns you see Using the right mouse button,
click a column heading

Expand or collapse all the triangles in the Radio's Stream list
Control-click a triangle

Shrink the iTunes window to show only the playback controls
Shift-click the Maximize button in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window

Zoom the window to an ideal size
Shift-click the Maximize button in the upper-right corner of the iTunes window

See more options when a visual effect is showing
Press ?, then press the indicated key to use an option (not all visual effects support this)


> Audible shortcuts

Go to the next or last chapter (if available)
Control-Shift-Right Arrow or Left Arrow


> File menu shortcuts

Create a new playlist

Create a new playlist with the selected songs

Create a new Smart Playlist

Add a file to the Library

Close the iTunes window

Import a song, playlist, or library file

Open the song or CD Info window for the selected song or CD

Show where a song file is located

Show the currently playing song in the list


> Edit menu shortcuts

Undo your last action

Cut the selected song's information

Copy the selected song's information

Paste the selected song's information

Select all the songs in the list

Deselect all the songs in the list

Hide or Show the Artist and Album columns

Hide or Show the song artwork

Open the View Options window for the selected source

Open iTunes preferences


> Controls menu shortcuts

Stop or start playing the selected song
Space Bar

When a song is playing, play the next song in a list
Control-Right Arrow

When a song is playing, play the previous song in a list
Control-Left Arrow

Increase the volume
Control-Up Arrow

Decrease the volume
Control-Down Arrow

Mute the sound (song keeps playing)
Control-Shift-Down Arrow

Eject a CD


> Visualizer menu shortcuts

Turn the visualizer on or off

Make visual effects take up the entire screen (when visualizer is on)


> Advanced menu shortcuts

Stream audio file at a specific URL to iTunes


Its not a immediate download. You'll have to create an Apple ID first then you can get the iTunes software.
Check it out
Oct 17th, 2003

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PC World
Oct 17th 2003
Oct 19th 2003

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