Unearthing the cause of the iTunes 8 crash

Oh my. Were you wondering how iTunes turned into an 80MB download? Looks like Apple’s installing a bunch of kernel-mode drivers and services and some unwanted applications with its iTunes 8 upgrade. Without any disclosure or consent.

And one of those drivers is one that’s been causing BSODs with Windows for as long as I can remember. Nice marketing strategy: Tweak Microsoft for an operating system that  crashes, then ship code that crashes Windows. Thank goodness I’m not a cynic or I’d think this was a deliberate marketing strategy.

Details over at ZDNet. (And don’t miss the screenshot gallery.)

Update: A commenter over at ZDNet came up with the best one-liner I’ve heard yet:

iTunes ain’t done till Windows won’t run!

Damn, wish I’d thought of that.

20 thoughts on “Unearthing the cause of the iTunes 8 crash

  1. Great post, Ed.

    This really should rise to regulatory investigation level. Apple appears to be abusing its monopoly in media players to leverage other Apple products as well as thwart MS and their users. I long ago stopped loading iTunes, Quicktime, and other Apple s/w products for the very reason that they acted more like malware.

  2. Not that I doubt the specific driver as being problematic but I am wondering if it is an interaction with something else. I ask since I for one have never had a blue screen on Vista and I have been running iTunes on it since day one. Now it could also be that I have an older version of the driver if it is only gets the new one on a new install of the iPod driver. Just a theory.

  3. The new driver (Apr 2008) is installed with iTunes 8.8. Older versions get the Jan 2008 driver.

    Also, there’s possibly an interaction with another piece of software, such as Roxio Easy CD Creator. That’s one program that’s been known to suffer this problem before.

  4. Hi Ed,

    I upgraded my iTunes installation last night. I actually broke my own rule for some reason, I never upgrade iTunes on the day a new version is released. For some reason I ignored my own rule. Anyways, everything installed ok but I didn’t bother syncing my 5G iPod video.

    With a foreboding sense of doom, I plugged in my iPod tonight to see what would happen. Everything seems fine, no BSOD or lockups. Maybe later I’ll reboot the computer just to be sure.

    This kind of thing is utterly horrendous on Apple’s part. I really have to wonder if there isn’t a conspiracy here. If this BSOD thing happens to the non-techie user, the first thing they’re going to do is blame Windows.

  5. Very good to know. Stay away from iTunes basically. I for one don’t need any more software to destabilize my goddamn system, so am sure as hell staying away from this one 🙂

    MS should really do something about this. It’s not OK to let any old software package install stuff all over the place. iTunes (and any other software) should be allowed only one folder to install itself in, anything else should require specific permission.

    Need something to start up with windows? The user has to provide specific authorization
    Need something to go under C:\Windows? Same thing
    Need to modify the registry under HKLM or anything else besides HKCU\Software\CompanyName? Same thing.

    Come up with a new version of .msi and make it so that ALL new software HAS to use the new format, which would be locked down as hell. Anything else would come up with a warning saying “You are about to let some wild software loose on your machine, do you accept to be a sucker?”.

    This should have been done in 2001 people.

  6. Thanks Ed, I’m sure many Windows users will suffer as a result of this, especially because Apple always tries to foist unwanted software onto Windows users.

    As a Windows user who needs Quicktime to work with other applications, each upgrade is a source of hassle and dread:

    1) the updates happen surprisingly frequently and from time to time are recalled when they mess something up

    2) you have to be careful to avoid iTunes and Safari being installed alongside it. Apparently even MobileMe is creeping onto some machines as well as the dodgy drivers that Ed reports.

    3) each upgrade sprays shortcuts to Quicktime all over your PC: on the Start Menu, the Desktop and the Quick Launch toolbar, so more time is wasted tidying up after it

    4) the skin and user interface of Quicktime for Windows is really showing its age. No attempt is made by Apple to integrate their application with the look and feel of the operating system, and instead it uses a design that isn’t even used on Macs any more.

    Less experiences users are walking into a trap of having unwanted software, drives, and an uglified PC just by getting this rather limited, but often crucial, media player and codec. Oh, and a crappy ‘Image Viewer’ – what’s that all about, as a certain Mr Seinfield might ask?

    I use macs at work so I understand the bliss that Apple customers experience of living in the benign dictatorship of the mac ecosystem. I would be a little more enamoured of Apple myself if they encouraged their Quicktime team to play a little more nicely with others.

  7. First rate work, Ed! Thank you so much for dealing with this issue in such a timely and informative manner. Should I (we?) start to give serious thought to using Zune? I would be interested in knowing your take on this product. Once again, nice work, and I enjoyed the inside/out injoke…

  8. Great post.

    I was already unhappy that iTunes 8 decided to switch on One-click ordering, something that I’ve never had enabled.

    After reading your article and subsequently discovering the extras that Apple had installed behind my back, I decided to uninstall iTunes completely.

    Guess what? Now my DVD/CD-ROM drive doesn’t work at all. Somewhere along the line uninstalling the Apple crap has corrupted my existing drivers.

    Please, get this out there and warn others of the risks.

  9. I guess the main thing this shows is how well Apple tests anything on Windows, and how much Apple is clueless on Windows development. You have to try pretty hard to crash Vista…

  10. Ian @ 7: You could try QuickTime Alternative, which is a repackaging of Apple’s core components only as a DirectShow codec. They’re keeping up-to-date with security issues. Similarly Real Alternative exists to avoid installing Real Player.

    These packages are of course strictly illegal as Apple and Real have not given their permission for these derivative works.

  11. Ed: I’m having the DVD/CD issue since loading iTunes 8, which I’ve since uninstalled. I’ve tried the suggestions at http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314060, but to no avail. I’ve taken out the drives and reinstalled them, still no dice I’m at the point of reloading XP or upgrading to Vista (which I don’t really want to do). I’ve also run all kind of registry cleaners and still no dice on my DVD or CD ROM working. Any suggestions on how I can get my drives to work again. HELP Please….

    There really needs to be an uprising against Apple for putting out garbage, sad thing is we as the consuming public let them get a free pass for putting out substandard products.

  12. So, yeah, I can see why PC users would consider this an evil plot by Apple, but what you don’t include in your discussion is how the Mac users, like myself, are having HUGE issues and more tech post are made with iTunes 8.0 upgrades on Macs. Apple really screwed us all here. Bad business. Lame.

  13. I have an ipod nano and im going to sell it, i don’t want to know anything more about this “Apple” company. They’re even worst than Microsoft! unbeliveable.

  14. My husband apparently upgraded to ITunes 8 yesterday and it started playing music then stopped abruptly. It says “The ITunes application could not be opened. A required ITunes component is not installed. Please reinstall or repair QuickTime -42404”. Well, he’s repaired QuickTime twice, which is annoying as he doesn’t watch videos, he just wants to play his music library… ugh! By the way, he has XP.

    He plays the ITunes usually from his Free Agent external HD – when I try & open that one it says “The file ITunesLibrary.Itl cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of ITunes”.. he is driving me nuts looking for a solution to this –can anyone help? Gosh, I can’t stand Apple/Mac crap, seriously. I work with them all day and I would never buy one.

    I am thinking of just removing QuickTime and ITunes completely from the computer and starting from scratch. As long as his music library is not lost – cuz I don’t think our marriage would survive that catastrophe. lol

    Please advise if anyone has any help regarding this. Thanks! By the way, what is BSOD??

  15. Ruth, BSOD stands for “Blue Screen of Death,” which is an error that causes teh operating system to completely stop functioning because a driver (in this case from iTunes) tampers with the core of the operating system.

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