An iTunes 8 warning

I grit my teeth every time Apple pushes another piece of software my way. I’m especially leery of iTunes 8, based on this comment from Dwight Silverman:

Windows Vista users may want to uninstall older versions of iTunes before installing version 8. There have been some reports of Blue Screens of Death with iTunes 8, and a clean install may prevent it.

Lovely. Maybe they can make an ad about it.

Update: I was able to reproduce the crash, and I think I’ve found the cause. The story’s even uglier than I thought. See An inside look at Apple’s sneaky iTunes 8 upgrade.

19 thoughts on “An iTunes 8 warning

  1. Didn’t have that problem, but Quicktime 7.5.5 didn’t install on my Vista machine with the iTunes package. I had to install Quicktime separately, then iTunes for it to work.

  2. I don’t worry about apples crap wear. i got tired of the ipod i owned
    never working right. and having to reload the firmware every few days. so i went out and bought a zune.
    i have not had any problems with it like i did with the ipod. i think the ipod is really overrated.

  3. As this program approaches 100MB in size, I’m thinking they probably should be doing more extensive beta testing of it. Person after person in the Apple thread reports a BSOD after plugging in their iPods, so it’s hard to believe this wouldn’t have been found with even casual testing on Windows.

    Is it only tested internally? Maybe to the small number of developers who also test OS X? Who?

    Perhaps it’s a stealth mission to increase Mac sales.

  4. Depending on who frustrates you most, you can blame iTunes or Vista for this… In my mind, an OS should never crash, no matter how much an application misbehaves. One can cut some slack to device drivers I guess. Is iTunes a device driver?

  5. Itunes installs several device drivers services, all without notifying the user. Bonjour, Mobile Device Support, MobileMe support, probably more.

    When you install it, it requires admin privileges, so it can do whatever it wants. And a BSOD can only be caused by a kernel-level device driver or a service.

  6. I get a BSOD in Vista more or less randomly… On average 3 per month since I installed it 10 months ago. My last BSOD happened after link.exe crashed badly while I was compiling a C++ project in Visual Studio 2008. I get BSODs a short time after some program crashes badly (occured so far with firefox.exe, svchost.exe, iexplore.exe, steam.exe, devenv.exe, etc). I’m basically frustrated enough by this to tend to blame Vista instead of whatever program was at the origin of the BSOD… I don’t use iTunes, so I’m glad I’m dodging a potential bullet here 🙂

    I inspect all generated minidumps, and most of them seem to be coming from virtual memory management… nt!KiPageFault is the one calling nt!KiBugCheckDispatch (aka BSOD) most of the time…

    I’m no kernel specialist, but from what I can see happening on my machine, the claim that Vista is mostly crashing due to bad 3rd party drivers is ballooney. MS is getting reports on all my BSODs, so there is hope. Someday they may be able to correct all of them.

  7. Joe, I guarantee you those BSODs are being caused by faulty hardware, or by a third-party device driver, or by a defective service. In fact, if they are truly random then it is almost certain that they are being caused by bad hardware. They are not being caused by Vista.

    If you’re getting 3 BSODs per month, something is horribly wrong. You should never get a BSOD. Never.

    I’ve written about this before:

    It could be something as sample as a cable:

    Or a bad power supply, or bad RAM, or a corrupted hard drive, or an outdated DVD-writing program. But I guarantee you it is not Vista.

  8. I admire your faith in this 🙂 It seems genuine.
    I’ve built that machine myself, I tried getting XP 64bit to crash on that same machine to confirm that it was a hardware problem but couldn’t. I’m 99% certain that my hardware is not faulty. I could be wrong of course, but I am not taking your word for it 🙂 I would need some serious proof that my hardware is indeed faulty.

  9. Joe, Try running some intense memory tests like memtest or perhpase some sort of burn-in test like Prime95. It will stress your hardware to the point that it will crash if there is anything faulty.

    I remember one time I added a second hard drive to my PC running WinXP64 and started getting random crashes… it turned out that I should have been using a PSU with more than 250 Watts oops!

    Also, OCing the CPU and installing cheap RAM can cause problems.

  10. Installed okay on Vista 32 this morning. However, the “Genius” playlist feature choked on my 50,000+ track library. iTunes crashed and needed to start the indexing again. Second time seems to have worked.

    A complaint I have is that each time I update iTunes/Quicktime the update reinstalls the Apple Software Updater and the iPod service garbage. I do NOT want Apple Softeware Updater on my computer and I do not own, nor plan to buy an iPod. Consequently, I have to uninstall the media player stuff and ASU. I also have to move/delete the All Programs entries as I do not keep these items at the root level. Apple’s poorly designed and implemented installers frustrate me.

    You might wonder why I have iTunes. I have to support it for my clients who use it, which is most of them, so I have to be knowledgeable about its workings. I don’t have to like it and I don’t.

  11. Back in the day iTunes for Windows shipped with some high level drivers for CD writing; not sure if it still does but I didn’t think they operated at a low enough level to cause a BSOD.

    No doubt Apple will blame Microsoft for this, since they seem to be out to discredit Vista where possible. Fact is that Apple keep their alphas and betas so tightly under wraps they lack real world testing and so flaws like this creep in; there’s no open (or invitation) beta testing like with most Microsoft beta products. About the only exception to this is Safari.

    By the way, I’m a Mac user.

  12. I’d love to know why Apple needs to have kernel-level USB drivers in iTunes just to talk with a USB device.

    To Joe (with the crashes): Look at third-party drivers, then hardware. I don’t take regular or occasional BSOD’s for granted; neither should you. Run Autoruns and see what non-MS things you don’t recognize. There are a lot of otherwise-useful third-party utilities that bury themselves nicely in Windows and you’d never know they were there.

  13. There’s nothing scientific about swapping cables, or testing RAM Ed :). It’s all very unscientific to me. It’s hacking really and quite sad actually. A major waste of time. As I said, I tried confirming that I had a hardware problem with XP. Everything seems to indicate that this is a software problem, mostly due to bugs in Vista itself. I did get a few coming from the Nvidia gfx driver. All my developer friends who are using Vista experience similar problems. When working on a small project, everything’s peachy. If you play a game for too long, or if you compile a big project, all bets are off. Try compiling the Google Chrome browser if you have Visual Studio. It’s a fairly big project, very easy to compile (one thing to unzip, 2 commands to run) or find a big WPF project to compile and let me know if you still see your Vista BSOD free.

    I have a Vista Media Center machine that’s been running for more than 18 months without a hiccup. It runs 24/7, reboots itself only when updates come and has been absolutely crash free so far (after 1 week of getting things right). But the workload on a dedicated Media Center PC is peanuts compared to what my dev machine sees.

    So, if all you do is surf the web on your machine, take a screenshot here and there, then I bet your machine is indeed rock solid.

    That said, after 10 months of BSOD pain, I’m taking any suggestion that comes my way for my dev machine. I am following all the articles you mention, swapping the cables, avoiding iTunes, and even trying to believe really hard that everything is OK to see if helps 🙂 I’ll take absolutely any solution be it scientific, spiritual or religious 🙂

    Heck, I’m even posting every now and then, just in case someone from MS reads this and gets motivated to do something about it 🙂

    While waiting for a solution, I came up with habits that ease the pain. For example, every time a program crashes, I reboot my machine. I’m unscientifically certain that this has reduced the number of BSODs I would have otherwise seen by at least a factor of 5 🙂

  14. Joe, the “science” I am referring to is what a STOP error represents. It represents a fault in kernel code. If that kernel code were part of Vista, your Media Center machine would crash. It doesn’t. QED.

    And I do a LOT more than “surf the web and take a few screenshots” on the 10 physical and eight virtual machines in my office here. They do everything.

    I know this stuff inside out. (Inside joke.) It amazes me that you don’t seem interested in actually finding and fixing this problem, which is both findable and fixable.

  15. “”There’s nothing scientific about swapping cables, or testing RAM Ed :). It’s all very unscientific to me. It’s hacking really and quite sad actually.””

    That is a really poor statement and underscores your unwillingness to fully understand the situation.

  16. Joe,

    just short simple story. Once I have had PC with 2gb of ram, where the java.exe (intellij) was crashing once per day or smth like that. I mean, java.exe was crashing (read – jvm), not a java application, running inside of this jvm. I ran a memory test over night (few hours wasn’t enough) and found, that almost at the top of the address space smth was wrong (only one test from all available in memtest86 had crash). Reducing the memory speed to 333 from 400 solved this annoying problem. Before that I even try to change a memory – it didn’t help. CPU was also changed. Looks like, the mb was broken.

    P.s.: all my colleague, who used linux, told me that it’s faulty Windows. Na ja, wie immer…

  17. Joe

    I would like to make a suggestion that is based on my experience (I started in the mid ’80’s with DOS) with x86 machines. Do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars. Go directly to jail. To get out, you must find a replacement for your video card. Beg, borrow or … okay, don’t steal one, just find a tried and true replacement. If your problem is with NVidea, then obtain an ATI card. Make sure it shows up un the list.

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