iTunes forces Windows users to choose

Windows users have embraced Apple Computer Inc.'s expanded iTunes service, but the new software and music store apparently cause a conflict for some iPod users. Users of Windows-based iPods who download and install Apple's new software have discovered it disables their Musicmatch Inc. Jukebox application, which ships with Windows-based iPods. Musicmatch has notified customers of the problem, calling it a "serious software conflict" in a recent e-mail.

"Apple iTunes for Windows prevents Musicmatch Jukebox from working with the iPod by deleting critical files used by Musicmatch. If you install iTunes, you will not be given a choice between Musicmatch Jukebox and iTunes--Apple makes this choice for you," the e-mail message says.

User feedback

Musicmatch decided to send the e-mail after getting complaints from some customers.

"We weren't aware of the conflict until we began receiving questions from our customers," says Jen Roberts, Musicmatch's director of corporate communications. "Our customers started asking us why their Jukebox application wasn't working after they installed iTunes for Windows."

"We felt it was important to let our customers know that they have a choice," she says. That is, they can use Musicmatch to access and manage downloads from other online services, or switch entirely to Apple's iTunes software and service.

Because iPod for Windows shipped before iTunes supported Windows, the player bundles Musicmatch software.

Apple never alerted Musicmatch to the conflict between the two applications, Roberts says. "We don't know why iTunes deletes these files, and why we were never notified about the problem. You'd have to ask Apple why."

Apple representatives declined repeated requests to comment for this report, not even acknowledging the problem.

Windows users warned

When a Windows user downloads iTunes, the program warns that they will no longer be able to use Musicmatch's software to manage the iPod. The installation screen reads: "Important: After installing iTunes 4.1 for Windows, you'll only be able to transfer music to your iPod using iTunes. To transfer music from MusicMatch Jukebox or Audible Manager to your iPod, you'll need to first import the music into iTunes. For more information, search iTunes and Music Store Help."

iPods for Mac OS have always shipped with a version of Apple's iTunes software. Apple's iTunes music store (which is accessible through the iTunes software application) was launched for Mac users in April.

The Windows version of the application and the music store were released in October, and have proven very popular. More than a million songs were downloaded in its first three days.

iPods designed for Windows-based PCs have been available since August 2002. All of those devices ship with a version of Musicmatch's Jukebox software for transferring music from the PC to the player. Musicmatch launched its own downloads service in September. Like the iTunes store, Musicmatch's service offers individual song downloads for 99 cents.

"Once (Apple) announced plans for iTunes for Windows, we knew we'd become competitors. We were partners and now we're competitors," Roberts says. Musicmatch does have an ongoing contract to ship its software with iPods for Windows, but the company will not disclose the length or terms of that contract.

Competing formats

Musicmatch Jukebox supports digital audio in several formats, including Windows Media, MP3, .wav and MP2, and its download service delivers songs in the WMA format. The iTunes music store delivers songs in a secure version of the AAC format. Apple created this version, and only Apple supports it, Roberts says. iTunes transfers songs to the iPod in that format, but Jukebox transfers them to the iPod in MP3 format, because Apple won't license its format to Musicmatch, she says.

The iTunes application will import music from other sources, including your Jukebox music library and your CD collection, and convert the songs to Apple's format for uploading onto the iPod. But you cannot purchase music from the iTunes music store and then upload it into your iPod using any application other than iTunes.

"If you want to use iTunes to purchase music, then you'd want to use the iTunes software to manage your iPod," Roberts says.

Migrate back to Musicmatch

It is possible to uninstall iTunes for Windows and continue using the Musicmatch software to manage your iPod. Musicmatch offers the following instructions to do so:

  • Disconnect the iPod from your computer if it is still connected.
  • Double-click on 'My Computer'.
  • Double-click on 'Control Panel'.
  • Open 'Add or Remove Programs'.
  • Select and uninstall 'iTunes'.
  • Select and uninstall the 'iPod for Windows' item.
  • Select and uninstall the 'Musicmatch iPod Plugin' item.
  • Select and uninstall the 'iPod System Software Update' or any other iPod related-items that might be listed.
  • Select and uninstall 'Musicmatch Jukebox'.
  • Close the 'Add or Remove Programs' control panel.
  • Restart your computer.
  • Delete the contents of the iPod directory by dragging the files to the Recycle Bin and then emptying the Recycle Bin.
  • Navigate to the '\program files\Musicmatch\Musicmatch Jukebox\' folder.
  • Delete the files, but not the folder, in the Musicmatch Jukebox folder.
  • Reinstall Musicmatch Jukebox from the installation CD that came with your iPod or download the iPod software from Musicmatch.com.
  • When finished, reboot your computer.
  • When the computer finishes rebooting, connect the iPod to your system.
  • Open Musicmatch Jukebox.
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