iTunes, Apple Music, iCloud, etc. on Windows

It’s been mentioned in passing on a couple of TidBITS threads, but I think it is worth highlighting that Apple recently released the first non-preview Windows versions of the Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices apps. It also revamped its Windows iCloud app. Since Apple hasn’t released separate apps for Books or Podcasts, iTunes for Windows still is available, at least for now. All of these apps now work on both Windows 10 and 11.

iCloud on Windows supports syncing passwords with Windows machines, which I suspect is a feature that has flown under the radar of a lot of dual-platform users. I noticed that a few articles mentioned that Windows iCloud did not support physical security keys, but that seems to have been fixed.

Personally, I strongly prefer iTunes over Apple’s separate apps. Ironically, Windows is the only way to run a currently maintained version of iTunes today. I’m not sure how long Apple plans to continue maintaining iTunes for Windows, though, so I suggest that anyone interested in running it now or in the future should download the installer. If Apple announces standalone versions of the Books and Podcasts apps, you’ll know the writing is on the wall.

Apple recently removed the direct download link to the current version of iTunes for Windows from its website, pushing people to use the Microsoft Store instead. Nonetheless, if you don’t want to use the Microsoft Store, you still can download the older Windows iTunes version 12.10.11 directly from Apple and then update it within the app to the current version (v12.13.1.3 as of this writing).

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Thank you! Grabbed.

I, too, am not looking forward to the long goodbye of iTunes for Windows. I also dislike the new split-media/split-personality apps. Now that has its column browser back, and since it’s fortunately still scriptable, things are not as bad as they could have been; nevertheless Podcasts, Audiobooks and Books all suffered under the new shoebox arrangements, and I suspect they will suffer likewise under Windows. :frowning:

Well, then use the Retroactive app and continue for now to use iTunes on the Mac.

Even more ironically, the Windows ports of Apple’s apps (which used to include Safari as well) are based on an internal Windows port of large chunks of the Mac Cocoa libraries. In other words, there’s a whole lot of common code between the Mac and Windows versions. If they’re still maintaining the Windows version, then they could probably release a Mac version in a few days, if they were so inclined.

(Of course, there’s a cost with such a release, since the port would have to be tested and supported. My point is only that it wouldn’t require a lot of new code development.)

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Well, if it’s OS support as such, here’s another irony: iCloud Drive came to Windows first, before macOS. It amuses me that more was not made of this at the time, particularly because the performance on macOS in the beginning was quite poor, compared to Windows, which seemed to work essentially flawlessly, except for support for selective syncing which came later with support from Microsoft for cloud storage apps.

Of course, it’s not a surprise that Apple still takes care of Windows users, because there are so many more of them than Mac users, both in general and when using iPhones and iPads. And Apple needs to make its services useful and attractive to them as well, because there are alternatives. The functionality changes were going to catch up to Windows users eventually.

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Fair enough, but my point about iTunes being maintained still stands. The Mac version of iTunes was last updated in 2021, while the Windows version continues to get updates.

That said, Retroactive is a seriously impressive piece of work. I used it for a little while to run Aperture after Apple dropped support for it.


For a while, I was running iTunes for Windows on a VM running Windows XP. Long after Apple deprecated iTunes on Mac and you could no longer purchase apps through iTunes the feature still worked in iTunes for Windows. I could also use it to arrange my screens – another dropped feature in the Mac version.

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While the iTunes app is not being updated as to features, it is updated so you can still sync music etc. using older OS like Mojave with the newest iOS but that probably will not go on that much longer.

Maybe yes, maybe no. As I understand it, iTunes (and the Finder in later macOS releases) doesn’t directly sync data, but uses device-specific “driver” software. This is why, after an iOS update, when you connect your device to your Mac, you get a popup telling you to download an update.

As I understand it, this driver is independent of the application actually doing the sync. So if Apple is updating it for Music, an installation of iTunes should also be able to take advantage. At least until some circumstance causes Apple to change that driver’s API - then iTunes support may go away.

But if we assume that API designs are mostly the product of the engineers, there will probably be a strong sense of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, so it probably won’t change until there is an actual need to do so. Of course, if the marketing department is dictating API changes (which is bad for an infinite number of reasons), then all bets are off.

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Correct. The device files are being updated on the Mac, but not iTunes itself.

My concern with the Mac version of iTunes is that it does not seem to be maintained actively with respect to security, especially since it hasn’t officially been supported on Catalina or newer.

iTunes on Windows has received quite a few security updates since Apple’s last Mac iTunes update on Mojave. I haven’t checked specifically, but I would expect that at least some of the vulnerabilities fixed on the Windows side are present in that last 2021 Mac release.

What vulnerabilities? I’ve never heard of any security issues with using iTunes on a Mac whether supported or not. Windows has its own issues and I would never use that version of iTunes on a regular basis only as a total last resort.

That’s what I said earlier as the app itself doesn’t change but users of older OS like Mojave or High Sierra can still sync their phones using the newest iOS.

It really doesn’t matter what is going on in the background as to the updates. Bottom line, older iTunes releases running on Mojave or High Sierra can still sync phones with newer iOS and avoid using the Music app.

I doubt it’s being maintained at all, since it’s only officially supported for versions of macOS that are no longer supported. So there may be vulnerabilities, but I wouldn’t expect them to be fixed.

On the other hand, vulnerabilities depend greatly on what you do with it. If you’re just ripping CDs, buying content from the iTunes Store and syncing your devices, you’re probably fine. If you’re downloading external content (e.g. internet radio or podcasts) with it, then there is a possibility that one of those vulnerabilities could be exploited by malicious content - you may want to use other apps for those purposes.