To be clear, I've never had a particular issue with iTunes. I know it has its detractors for not being flexible, but I've been fine with how it's designed. I'm not crazy about it's latest re-design, but it's okay. My biggest problem has been that whenever they do upgrades, their testing for Windows compatibility -- indeed their Windows compatibility. I know it's an Apple program. But 90% of computer operating systems are Windows, so it does make sense to play nice with it.
In their last re-design, they screwed up the ability to download podcasts. It finally got resolved, but there was a lot of screaming online from disgruntled users. When I recently got my Windows Phone, transferring songs from iTunes was wildly screwed up -- and when I switched over to a program called Media Monkey to fix things (mainly, "tagging" songs which is how they're identified), it and iTunes seemed to be mortal enemies, and bizarre things started happening.
But the final straw came came about on Thursday when I couldn’t update iTunes with the latest version, and whatever I tried I kept getting error messages. Some messages said “msvcr80 dll is missing” and some explained that “ASPDaemon.exe can’t load” which appeared every time I rebooted my system. I did a search and found that, in fact, I did have msvcr80.dll on my system (despite what the iTunes error messages said), and ASPDaemon is apparently an unnecessary Apple software unless one uses iCloud (which works poorly with Windows).
After wasting a couple hours with all this, I tracked down that a lot of people were having the same problem with this new iTunes update. They were getting the same "msvcr80.dll missing" and "ASPDaemon" error messages. One site finally offered details on how to get it to install, by giving explicit directions on what to uninstall first and in what exact order, which will allow you to then install the new iTunes update.
(For any of you who might be having the same problem installing the new version of iTunes, click here for a link to those instructions. I can't swear that this will work for everyone, but the people who replied suggests it does work.)
I followed those uninstall directions -- but right before installing iTunes again, I paused. “Hey, wait, do I need it?” I have a Windows Phone now, my iPod is now longer my device of choice. I can listen to my albums through Windows Media Player or Realplayer. And I get my podcasts (albeit poorly…) on my Windows Phone. However, I still do want to be able to get podcasts on my desktop (long story, but a main reason is that I want to be able to download them to embed some of them here on my website, like the News from Lake Wobegon and the Piano Puzzler) -- but do I need iTunes for that, I wondered??
I did some searching, found some podcast player alternatives, and am currently trying Feedly. It seems to work quite well -- you sign in with your Google account, so you can access your Favorite Podcasts from any computer. And you can download easily. Podbay.fm also appears to work nicely.
Apparently the aforementioned Media Monkey handles podcasts, too, though I haven’t tried it. I’m a bit gunshy after all its conflicts with iTunes…but if I’ve uninstalled iTunes, all those conflicts should be gone -- hey, maybe I’ll check it out. But Feedly seems to be okay for the moment. And there's something nice about it being accessible as an online website that updates automatically and is accessible right from within your browser, rather than a standalone program.
The larger point is that, for now, I’ve uninstalled iTunes, and we’ll see how it goes. There are some slight downsides to letting it go. (I may want to be able to keep my iPod Touch current. But right now I’ll try without. And ultimately, I do still have iTunes on my laptop computer, as a backup.) But for now, we are iTunes free.