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I often hear people say that iTunes may be a bit poor on Windows, but that it's much better on the Mac. What are the differences that make it better? And is it the same on XP, Vista and Windows 7? I'm looking for the actual differences, not any rants about Microsoft or Apple.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Since the 7.6 upwards release the only difference between the two versions is the language they are written in. iTunes on the Mac is written in Objective C with Cocoa and the Windows version in C++. However functionally and otherwise they are the same.

OSX has always rendered fonts differently from Windows. All other features across the two are the same. I use iTunes on both Windows and OSX everyday and apart from the Preferences menu being in a different place have yet to find examples of how they are different. I manage my iPhone and my complete music library with it as well as running it for a Shared Library across my home network with absolutely no issues.

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Except for Safari, for which Apple has ported the OSX font antialiasing too. – grawity Jul 18 '09 at 14:22
Correct - For Safari 4 they built a Windows Native app. Thanks for the reminder – BinaryMisfit Jul 18 '09 at 15:23

My experience as a long time Windows user is that iTunes used to install a bunch of crap that ran in the background and it seemed to cause my systems to have problems. iTunes now runs much better on Windows than it used to.

Recently, I moved over to using Macs at home (I still work on Windows) and iTunes really fits well into the OS and feels natural. On Windows, iTunes just feels out of place to me. It just doesn't feel "Window-like." :-)

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Depends on what you consider "crap". (Bonjour is useful for some (it has a Linux equivalent, Avahi), but the "iPodHelperService" things really annoy me.) – grawity Jul 18 '09 at 14:23

Hmm. I run it on Mac, XP, and Vista. I don't see that there's much difference. Vista laptop is driving my living room stereo as I type.

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User usage wise, there is not much difference. There are some minor things though. The mac version integrates naturaly with the mac os with iLife and software update. On windows, software update is a different application in itself. Other than a few install options and os specific features/code, no, they are not much different.

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Lots of the differences are just with differences in platform. The mac version has much better text rendering, even on Vista iTunes text still looks worse. The mac scroll speed used to be worse, but now I think it's better than Windows. Windows used to miss some keyboard shortcuts (eg create new playlist), but both seem about the same now.

One big difference was that on Windows, if you moved a file iTunes lost track of it. Macs work differently at the filesystem level, so that didn't happen. Is this still true?

Cover flow is still slow on Windows and I don't think there's a way to make the mini player (The Window menu is missing on Windows).

I still wish for a Winamp for mac, iTunes is just too big to fire up when you want to just play a folder of songs, and I don't like the way it insists on adding everything to its library.

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Winamp for mac exists now: – Ioannis Filippidis Oct 21 '14 at 3:40

ITunes on Windows is extremely unresponsive and slow. It seems like everything runs in one thread, so internal multitasking (ie download podcast/sync or whatever) renders the UI extremely unresponsive.

I don't know how it works on a mac.

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iTunes rocks in a Mac; Sucks on Windows; well altho' the software is well written, feels out of place with an entirely different UI to common windows apps.

There is something common for iTunes on either platforms: It occupies over a GB of RAM.

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Not on my iMac... It only has 1 gig. – GameFreak Jul 18 '09 at 13:23

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