iTunes experience is better than Windows Media

I have two iPods. One I purchased (a Nano) and one I received as a gift. The music on my iPods comes from a rather large (700+) CD collection and iTunes. I do not download (anymore).

I find that the experience using Apple’s music solution is outstanding. Plug iPod into computer, it automatically synchronizes with iTunes. You can set up playlists easily. Buying music is a breeze. And it’s all easy to manage.

Given that Apple clearly figured out the process, you’d think Microsoft wouldn’t have so much trouble ripping it off. Yet Alex seems just about ready to pitch the computer out the window due to the ultra-crappy experience. Allow me to illustrate.

Alex doesn’t like following crowds. So she went to the Philips GoGear media player. It’s Windows-based and synchronizes with the Windows Media Player. In theory, not a big deal. And from CD, it generally works reasonably well. The playlists aren’t quite as easy to manage and Media Player’s interface has been an issue with me ever since Microsoft decided to “simplify” it. (Hint to Microsoft: Try again.)

Now I can’t comment on how buying music through Media Player works in the United States, but it’s a complete waste of time and money in Canada. Here in the Great White North (and assumedly in other places), Media Player does not actually handle the purchasing of music. It links in with other tools and websites for purchasing.

At first, it was Sympatico MSN, a joint service between Bell Canada and Microsoft (MSN). You bought music, it downloaded to Media Player, and things were all well. The integration was okay (not airtight) but worked without a lot of grief.

Then the music store on Sympatico vanished.

Alex turned to the only other option available: Napster. I used Napster back in its heydey. It was good. Its current incarnation is an abomination by my standards. It tries to run things on its own, stealing away from Media Player. It doesn’t like playing with other software. Sure, you can buy songs, but it loses licenses (or expires them too soon), won’t synchronize with Media Player, and Alex has some awful trouble putting music on her system.

I partly blame DRM. But I mostly blame Microsoft and their inability to deliver a product experience that’s at least as transparent and simple as the one Apple has built.

You stole Windows from Apple (yes, and Xerox). Steal iTunes, too. It’ll do you well if you have any hope of beating them out in the home entertainment field.

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