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Apple iTunes for Windows Review

Last week, Apple released iTunes for Windows, a stunning replication of its excellent iTunes music jukebox and digital-music-download service, which were previously available only to Mac OS X users. Apple CEO Steve Jobs incorrectly described iTunes for Windows as "the best Windows application ever written." In truth, it's an excellent Mac application--my favorite jukebox on any platform, incidentally--that's been ported to Windows without even a token gesture toward making it Windows-friendly.

Rather than use the readily available native controls that Windows users know and expect, Apple has aped the Mac OS X-style window controls in its Windows version of iTunes. So, although iTunes for Windows offers Minimize, Restore/Maximize, and Close toolbar buttons, some of them don't work like their Windows equivalents but rather as they do on the Mac. For example, if you click Restore/Maximize, the window resizes but will never maximize. Not only did creating this UI require extra work but it's silly, and it makes iTunes stand out like a sore thumb among your other Windows applications.

After you get past its odd UI, iTunes for Windows is an excellent copy, feature-for-feature, of its Mac OS X version, and it's a player that I strongly recommend. My final caveat is that Apple's online music service uses the nonstandard 128Kbps Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) audio format, rather than the superior Windows Media Audio (WMA) 9 format that other music services use. Apple's iPod is the only portable audio device that can play the AAC format (not coincidentally, it's also the only portable audio device that works with iTunes for Windows), so before you purchase any tunes, understand what you're getting into.

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