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Crappy software

This is more rant than anything, but I've been working all day so I need to decompress.

For some reason I was contemplating the software I would immediately re-install if I had a catastrophic failure. From there, I thought about the quality of that software. Then I started looking at some basic stuff, like how resource-intensive these programs were. And then I got annoyed, mostly at iTunes, but others are guilty as well.

Why does Apple get a pass when they make crappy software? (Sit down, zealots.) I have an iPod, so I pretty much have to use this software. It's a pain to go back and forth from one player to another, so I just made my default player. The management/UI/experience part of iTunes is top-notch. Really, I like using iTunes. What drives me crazy is that the application itself sucks up way too many resources.

For example, I have iTunes running right now with my iPod docked. iTunes runs three (visible) processes on my machine: iTunes.exe, iTunesHelper.exe, and iPodService.exe. Three processes for one application. Ok, I can live with that; PGP takes two on its own. But, the amount of resources required is a little high:

  • iPodService.exe - 5,384K

  • iTunes.exe - 52,584K

  • iTunesHelper.exe - 4,316

That's over 60K (or 60 megabytes) of memory to support the functionality of one applications whose sole function (at the moment) is to play music. To put this in perspective, Winamp takes 13,184K, or less than 1/4 the resources. Even taking away the iPodService and iTunesHelper (Helper?? what the hell is it helping? and why can't it be part of the main process?), Winamp is still using less than 1/3 the resources needed by iTunes.

Put another way, all iTunes processes use about the same amount of resources as Outlook. Microsoft gets crapped on all the time for Office apps being resource hogs (which they are), but I just don't get the free pass given to Apple for a good UI. Why can't the application give back the memory it doesn't need now that it's not synching with the iPod? Depending on what the helper is doing, why can't I turn that off if I don't need it (similar to Winamp agent)?

I said others are guilty as well. All those little niggling applications that hide in svchost.exe processes need to 'fess up. Maybe I'm being fussy, but just because I can put a gig of RAM in this box doesn't mean developers should require it.


  1. Um... typical tech support answer from Apple: "you don't need to know why". I've heard it way to many times, so nothing surprises me anymore.

  2. But is this the same on a Mac? I tried using Konfabulator because Apple users just raved about it. It was cool, but I don't need a clock to take up 30 megs of RAM. Running three widgets sucked up almost a 100 megs of RAM. It was ridiculous.

    I could understand a little un-optimized code from Apple when tossed at a Windows environment (or vice versa)--competition is sometimes nasty. But if this is the same on their native platform, well, that's just bad development.

  3. Apple uses their own GUI on the windows platform... idiot.

  4. You're welcome to comment here if you want, but watch the tone. If you want to insult people, log onto Xbox Live and taunt some 13 year olds.

    My point still remains; why does Apple get a pass for completely re-writing the GUI on Windows? What uberwonderful thing did they need that the Windows GUI didn't provide? That neat row shading? The brushed look around the window edge?

    Theoretically, you could reproduce the entire iTunes interface in AJAX, but I don't see a lot of praise coming Apple's way if they did that. Why then do they get praise when do the equivalent?

  5. Hello,

    I just wanted to drop a line, on my powerbook running tiger iTunes (playing, surfing around the music store, with an ipod plugged in) takes about 30mb of my memory.

    Being a recently ex-windows user I can say that yes, iTunes is rediculous on winxp and that's unfortunate. Just another incentive to switch :p.

    But really, I agree with Ryan, the windows version will not exactly be their top priority. And I would venture to say that part of the problem is how windows deals with allocating that memory to iTunes. Perhaps iTunes gives it up when it doesn't need it but windows is too stupid to realize... which is often the case with windows memory management.

    The row shading would theoretically take quite a bit, afterall windows doesn't have Quartz or anything, apple most likely has to emulate how the effect is created on their own os. The brushed look is a transparency effect that other applications with such an effect also suffer due to memory problems (Konfabulator, which was mentioned, is one).

    Bottom line, apple probably doesn't care if your Windows version of iTunes is a little slow, they figure windows is already eating twice as much memory as osx, why not have iTunes on windows eat twice the memory of iTunes on osx, only seems fair :)

    Take care.


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