1. "That's no moon; it's a space station."
The download for the most recent version is about 100MB. For comparison, the downloads for the most recent versions of Windows Media Player and Winamp are 25MB and 10MB, respectively. I know we pretty much all have high-speed internet these days, but that is still four to ten times longer download time. If we're talking about two minutes versus ten minutes, that's a pretty significant difference.
2. "He is as clumsy as he is stupid."
This goliath of a program runs like, well, for lack of a better description, a piece of shit. Anytime it's doing anything at all, whether it's syncing my iPod Touch or building up a new round of Genius Mixes, doing anything else becomes a tedious grind. And that's frustrating as hell. Every other media player I use zips along with resiliency, pretty much regardless of what else I'm doing. iTunes also takes two or three times as long to open as either Windows Media Player or Winamp. And when it does open, it usually decides that it wants to do something that consumes more computing resources, and I end up having to wait even longer.
3. "Never his mind on where he was, hm? What he was doing!"
Why is there no equivalent of a "now playing" playlist, something temporary that I can toss songs into at my leisure? Both Windows Media Player and Winamp have this feature; even iPods have On-The-Go Playlists. This is baffling to me. It's also the cause of a great deal of frustration when I'm listening to an album and it finishes and iTunes just automatically starts playing the next one. Yet another example of Apple thinking it knows best, when really it should be leaving control in the user's hands. If I cue up an album in Winamp, and there's nothing else after it in the playlist, it stops playing. Better yet, if I have a few albums or songs queued up in Winamp and I close the program, the next time I open it those same selections are still in the playlist tab, ready for me to continue exploring them where I left off. This 'feature' has been in Winamp pretty much since its inception a decade ago, I believe.
4. "This deal is getting worse all the time!"
Before I acquired my iPod Touch, I used Winamp to put songs on my old iPod. It worked great; I could drag and drop directly from the Windows folder location onto the iPod, and there was even an option to save songs from the iPod onto my computer. But with the iPhone and the iPod Touch (and, I'm guessing, the iPad) Apple has seen fit to change the programming to make this impossible (or, from what I've read online, somewhat possible but prohibitively difficult), so now I'm stuck using iTunes to sync my iPod Touch. The problem is that computers are supposed to be getting simpler, we're supposed to be removing extra steps to move faster and improve productivity. But sync is an added step. It's like pouring your cereal from the box (or bag) into some arbitrary bowl, pouring milk into that bowl, and then pouring the entire mixture into yet another bowl and then sitting down to eat. Now you have to clean two bowls. Why not just eat out of the first bowl you poured into? No wait, it's like if someone else poured every kind of cereal you have into the bowl for you, and then left it up to you to sort out the bits and pieces you wanted to listen to—er, I mean eat.
5. "It's a trap!"
Music purchased on iTunes is DRM-protected. What does that mean? Let's take a look at this excerpt from How FairPlay Works: Apple's iTunes DRM Dilemma.
Prior to buying content from the iTunes Store, a user has to create an account with Apple's servers and then authorize a PC or Mac running iTunes.Did you stop reading that bit and just skip to this part? That's okay, I didn't even read all of it myself. Know why? Because it's bullshit.
During authorization, iTunes creates a globally unique ID number for the computer it is running on, then sends it to Apple's servers, where it is assigned to the user's iTunes account. Five different machines can be authorized.
When a user buys a song from the iTunes Store, a user key is created for the purchased file. The AAC song itself is scrambled using a separate master key, which is then included into the protected AAC song file. The master key is locked using the user key, which is both held by iTunes and also sent to Apple’s servers.
Protected, purchased content is locked within iTunes; songs are not scrambled on Apple's server. This speeds and simplifies the transaction by delegating that work to iTunes on the local computer.
The result is an authorization system that does not require iTunes to verify each song with Apple as it plays. Instead, iTunes maintains a collection of user keys for all the purchased tracks in its library.
To play a protected AAC song, iTunes uses the matching user key to unlock the master key stored within the song file, when is then used to unscramble the song data.
Every time a new track is purchased, a new user key may be created; those keys are all encrypted and stored on the authorized iTunes computer, as well as being copied to Apple's servers.
When a new computer is authorized, it also generates a globally unique ID number for itself and sends it to Apple, which stores it as one of the five authorizations in the user account.
Apple's server sends the newly authorized machine the entire set of user keys for all the tracks purchased under the account, so all authorized systems will be able to play all purchased songs.
I don't buy music online too often, but when I do, it's at Amazon. Why? Because most of their albums are between $5 and $9.50. Yes, even the most expensive is still generally $0.50 less than iTunes. And some are $3. Oh, and it's all DRM-free. Yes, you just download the MP3s and then do whatever you want with them. Downloading from Amazon looks like this:
Install the Amazon downloader utility, which helps ensure that the stuff you pay for actually ends up on your computer, because it would be sad if it didn't.Easy. These are the reasons that iTunes sucks. Really bad.
Download some music.
Listen to it. Or don't. Add it to your iTunes library, or your Windows Media Player library, or your Winamp library. Or don't add it to any library, just leave it on your computer. Back it up to another hard drive. Send it to your mom. Put it on your iPod, or your Zune, or your whatever.