My mate Chapstick had a bit of a run in with an iPod Mini lately, he did a pretty decent entry in his blog about it. I certainly enjoyed reading it.
Two points I've got to make, I'll skip the obvious ones about iTunes trying to take over your computer, installing god knows what and having it all running in the background - I went into more detail about them in my why the iPod sucks entry from a few months back.
Anyway coming with incompatible versions of the iPod firmware and the iTunes software out of the box? What are Apple thinking? What if they didn't have internet access? They'd be screwed. Of course Apple is constantly updating the iPod's firmware and iTunes, not to add new features (aside from patching the security flaws) but to break applications that people are trying to put together to get around Apple's silly iTunes monopoly over the iPod. One of the latest updates for example broke compatibility with Real's online store. If Microsoft was doing this kind of thing can you imagine the uproar about it? The headlines: Microsoft add code to prevent Firefox being used with Windows, that's EXACTLY the same thing that Apple is doing. Yet only the geeks cry foul (and the ones that aren't so up their asses with anti-Microsoftness), the goons in the media just carry on raving about how "cool" Apple are.
My second point. Drop the iPod take it back, say it doesn't work (it clearly doesn't work out of the box) and get a player that has PlaysForSure compatibility, so you just have to plug it into your Windows XP/WMP10 machine and install no software!
In reply to some of the comments:
From Jon: "the difference of course is that Apple's market is not a monopoly, it is selling a product " iTunes" which has 80% of a portion of a market, but only 10% of the whole market of consuming music. so no monopoly."
I was referring to the iPod and iTunes being locked together. So iTunes has a monopoly over iPod users.
On Windows you can use any browser, Microsoft don't lock you into using Internet Explorer for example.
That's the difference I was getting at, not the overall markets.
From Yowza: "Ahem, didn't you have to install WMP10? Isn't that a software install? Please show me one machine on sale today that comes with WMP10 (not 9) installed out of the box? [...] Oh, can you say MSFT does not lock out users with new versions of their stuff, forcing you to upgrade your WMP etc, to continue using your product, while at the same time blocking out Real or QT [...] There are no iPods and iTunes that come together that have incompatibilities out of the box - please point to one... [...] The day that Microsoft releases their DRM and their WMP 10 for the Mac is the day Windows users can start crying foul at what Apple does. Until that day, it is Apple and not Microsoft that is allowing you to play your purchased songs on the Mac and the PC both. [...] because DRMd WMA is Windows only. And the day Apple allows other players to play Fairplay AAC is again the day that Windows becomes THE PLATFORM for these units - because they need not add support they do not have to the Mac."
The latest SKU of Windows XP comes with Windows Media Player, yes version 10. If you want an example of a machine Sony's Vaio RB for example. Either way 9 is still compatible with most online stores and you can still sync your PlaysForSure devices with version 9. 10 is just better, 90 million odd downloads in the last couple of months proves that.
As for incompatibilities, try reading the blog I was actually talking about in this post. Clearly something isn't right. You seemed to of totally missed the point of this entry.
Microsoft didn't force me to upgrade Windows Media Player, all my content works perfectly fine with version 9 for example. All my stuff works in Windows Media Player 6 - from god knows how many years ago. Obviously as new features come through - you need the newer players to support those features if you want to make use of them. They don't "force" upgrade people like Apple do.
When did Microsoft ever prevent QuickTime or Real Player from being used on Windows? I've had both since the early Windows 95 days, and have never had a problem with them failing to work etc. Windows users prefer Windows Media Player because it's far faster has a smaller memory footprint and isn't so buggy. If Real don't like that fact may be they should try writing a better player rather then complaining about it.
You don't need Windows Media Player 10 to support the new rights management on the Mac, you just need the core DRM technology aka Janus, see this is a cool thing, I can use any Janus compatible player to play back tracks from stores that use the new Janus technology - Microsoft don't force me to use Windows Media Player. Like I said before, something Apple sue people over trying to do with their player.
Microsoft have publicly said to quote Product Manager Marcus Matthias "it is operating-system-independent", from mobile phones to Linux STBs, it's for anybody. If there's no product on the Mac that makes use of this technology, may be you should ask Apple or somebody else to licence the new Janus technology. That's the cool thing about Microsoft - they licence their technology out, unlike Apple. Microsoft have said they'd licence their technology to Apple "in a heartbeat". So no the new rights management isn't Windows only at all.