As anyone that knows me can tell you, I’m a huge fan of the iPod. I’ve had one since its first release (when it was Mac only) and have been using XPlay to sync my music to and from my PC. While this has been very working well for over a year – and I hate that music application that Apple included with the Windows version – iTunes 4.1 for Windows came out from Apple this week, so I thought I’d take a look at it. Sadly, Mac-formatted iPods do not work with iTunes for Windows, so I had to make a choice… it’s all working now, but what did I do?
When iTunes for Windows is installed on a PC, and you plug in a Mac formatted iPod, it yells at you saying that it needs some software. Simply put, iTunes is looking for a Windows-based iPod since it’s on a PC. That means that if I wanted to use iTunes for Windows, I had to change my Mac-formatted iPod into a Windows-formatted iPod. I would lose all of my iPod stored music and play lists, but I figured what the hell? Here’s what I did:
- Uninstall XPlay. Nothing against MediaFour, but for what I was going to do was icky enough and I didn’t want XPlay to interfere with it. Besides, if all went well I wouldn’t need it.
- Install iTunes for Windows. Well, duh.
- Download and install the Windows version of the iPod 1.3 Installer. I don’t know anything about the Dock version of the iPod – that’s the 3rd generation of iPods – because it’s on version 2.1 of the firmware, which isn’t compatible with my iPod. In fact, I don’t think the 3rd Gen has any issues with Windows or Mac versions – only the scrollwheel and touchwheel models (Generations 1 and 2) would even have this concern.
- Update the iPod. After all of the reboots that XPlay, iTunes, and the iPod Installer have caused, you’re ready to change the iPod. To do this, connected the iPod to the PC and ran the iPod Installer. This will offer you the single option to Restore an iPod – it can’t Upgrade it because it’s currently not compatible. This will format and re-initialize your iPod into a Windows-based version. There’s no recovery from this point – you will lose all existing data on the iPod and I sure as hell am not responsible!
- Follow the Installer’s instructions and you’re all set. The next time you open iTunes, you can plug in the iPod and it should find it. In fact, your PC won’t see it until you launch iTunes so make sure you open it first.
Some additional notes: I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to pull music off the iPod anymore, like I could with XPlay. There’s a couple of options under iTunes that makes this possible. Once you sync it the first time, click on the iPod button in the lower right hand corner of iTunes. Turn on “drive mode”. Granted, you’ll have to manually eject the iPod before you can unplug it (just like XPlay) but this will allow Explorer to see the iPod and yes, you can pull MP3’s right off it.
Also, I’m keeping XPlay on my notebook(s) – XPlay is still the best way to simply transfer music to an iPod and iTunes gets very cranky with synching, if all of the music on the iPod isn’t on the notebook’s hard drive. If you try to let iTunes sync a loaded iPod to a PC that doesn’t have all the same music, it clears the iPod. There is also an update for iTunes 4.1 compatibility, so make sure you get that from MediaPlay! XPlay picked up the Windows-formatted iPod with no problem and everything there seems happy as well.
Basically, this seems to be the best of at least five worlds: iPod, Windows, iTunes, XPlay and um, music!