[Note: In case you haven't figured out, I'm a geek about some stuff and you'll notice it in this posting. I'm sure you'll notice in the future that I'm most geeky when it comes to "elegant" solutions; I think iTunes is one of those and thus I go on about it here. Read my other posts if you want a less geeky version of me!]
So I downloaded the Windows version of iTunes today since I really wanted to see if it was any better than other music players I've used previously. As background, I've been using Windows Media Player the most lately and have been decently satisfied with it. I can't say I've been pleased by Media Player, but it did the job of a basic music player and it apparently keeps track of what you've been listening to so you can listen to your "favorite" songs without having to consciously add them to a Favorites List. Anyways, I downloaded iTunes and was immediately displeased with how long it took to download & get running. Not that any Windows software is quick to d/l and setup, but I actually noticed this time how long it took to get to the setup options for iTunes. But in any case, no big deal there since I was doing the usual heavy multi-tasking (and that could have been why it took so long to setup since my laptop is being a bitch lately)
First impressions after getting iTunes running are very good! I must say that I'm really pleased with the simplicity of the interface. I don't plan on buying songs from the music service right now so I can't comment on that, but the music player itself is well organized. I like the Browse functionality to look through your music (by Genre, Artist, and Album). That was one aspect that I really didn't like about Windows Media Player; it have an Explorer drill-down interface to look through your music collection and you basically have to go back and forth between different branches to really explore your music...suffice it to say I don't explore my music unless I know exactly what I want to listen to. Even then, it's a pain to find what I want. iTunes has solved that by having three panes which you can view at the same time to explore and a fourth pane to see the actual songs. The best thing about it though is that the other panes change based on what you've selected in one pane. When you've got a large music collection, this system should make it quite easy to look through your music. I won't go through the trouble of trying to describe it so please go forth and download. And, of course, it also has the "Most Played" and "Favorites" lists which are auto-built according to how you play your music and rate your music.
Too bad you can't transfer songs onto non-iPod players though. I've got a Nomad so I'll still be using Playcenter to transfer stuff. I've heard there are other bugs with iTunes, but since many bugs have already been fixed and I've only used it for an hour or so, I haven't confronted any real problems. One geeky annoyance: iTunes only captures that you've played a song after you've played the entire song. This isn't a huge deal, except that it throws off the "most played" and "recently played" lists since the song won't be recognized as having been played unless you finish the whole song.
Anyways, I think I'll be switching to iTunes as my player of choice. It's an elegant solution to the problem of having large digital music collections with not enough time to organize them. Give it a try and let me know what you think.