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The Tipping Point

A review of iTunes 7 by Mordecai.

I thought I'd time how long it takes iTunes 7 to load on my Windows laptop. I've fortunately had none of the major problems many people have had with the Windows version, but I'm beginning to get annoyed with the sheer bloat and sluggishness of the program.

Reboot. Wait till the AV loads (just to be fair). Hit Start, then iTunes.

From that moment until the program appears on screen takes 45 seconds.

That's obscene. This isn't an old machine: I bought it this year.

I think iTunes while it has been a good program (in terms that it does what people want) may have now passed the tipping point.

It just does too much. Some programs merely rip - eg CD Paranoia; some just encode - eg LAME; some do nothing other than tag.

But iTunes not only combines all three functions, it is also a player - and also a music library and organiser - and a music store interface and downloading program - and a streaming radio program - and a podcast catcher - and a movie player - and now it does all that stuff with the cover art. And it's also an iPod updater now. It's fucking insane.

Three quarters of a minute to load on a new laptop.

I think the program's success has probably been partly down to the fact that it's done quite a lot. It's been important to Apple to tie the library/ripping-and-encoding program, the iPod, and the iTunes store together. I also suspect people prefer a 'one shop stop' to a number of different programs. And I think people also like 'features'.

But I think they'll find the penalty they pay as iTunes adds more and more features (surely it is going to keep on adding more and more and how long before the download is over 100 MB) will be appallingly sluggish loading and performance and increasing unreliability and bugs.

And what is with this gapless audio? It's just more crap - something else you really don't need that this monster - this veritable Jabberwock - of a program has to do. Apparently His Steveness demonstrated with a Beethoven Symphony and with Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Moon'. I've only two comments to make on that.

  1. I doubt airhead Maccies would sit still for the whole of a Beethoven symphony. So I'd lay money it was little more than a snatch - artifically broken before the natural break, artifically joined at the natural break, and then artificially broken again after it. And hasn't he heard of orchestras pausing between movements? Jeez - when would the audience get to cough and shuffle their feet?

  2. As for the pompous school of 70s rock music, I couldn't care less. Mahler or Bruckner can sustain interesting musical development over thirty minutes or more, but rock and roll is supposed to be short and sweet. It's disposable, doesn't make too much of itself, and doesn't pretend to be more than it is. How long are tracks from Buddy Holly or the Beatles?

Someone over at Ars Technica posted he was new to Mac and could someone recommend a simple lightweight player for MP3s. The suggestion offered was Cog. I don't know that application, but I see the point of the request.

Oh - and not only does Apple's badly behaved installer put iTunes and QuickTime into startup without asking, but I discovered it made an exception for itself in the Windows firewall!

I removed them from startup of course, but is it surprising they snuck them in there, since they can't write a program that loads in a reasonable length of time?

Am I ever beginning to be through with this program!

Mordecai is a free lance IT journalist based in the UK.

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