With the recent news that iTunes is doing all kinds of misbehaving on Vista, a colleague asked, “why would Microsoft allow this to happen on their flagship OS?”  And while at first glance his assumption looks like a valid indictment of Microsoft Vista, I have to ponder is there more a more sinister plan afoot at Redmond?


“C’mon Eric!”, you’re thinking, after all iTunes is a significant part of people’s computing experience – surely this is just another MS marketing blunder.  The reasoning goes something like this, “Not having full compatibility out of the box with a mainstream media application like iTunes, Microsoft is going slow adoption and/or frustrate users of Vista.” And while I do not dispute the truth of that argument let me just roll with this for a bit.


Here is the scenario – Microsoft has drug it’s feet and not put any pressure on Apple to get iTunes ready for Vista on launch day. The immediate responses:

1. Shame on Microsoft, there should be better testing and integration with large ISVs like Apple.



2. Apple is in no hurry, why does Apple want to support Vista anyway, with OSX and Macintels gaining market share why should they hurry up to support Vista users?



3. Microsoft has found yet another way to botch the Vista roll out forcing iTunes/iPod users to faultier or loose out on functionality.


Wow sounds like a win for Apple and at the very least a PR nightmare for Microsoft! But is it? Does Apple actually stand to benefit from having its iTunes service unavailable on every new computer that ships with Vista or those upgrading?  Certainly not, over 50% of all iTunes sales are on non-Apple platforms, why would Apple want limit their market to the Macintosh install base (still under 10%?)


On the other hand, why would MS want to slow expansion and continued use of iTunes anyway? Microsoft makes money for every song that is sold on iTunes, remember MS still owns a stake of Apple, and the iTunes store is highly profitable.


Still think it’s a vast Microsoft debacle, try this thought on. If the iTunes incompatibility were severe enough to force people into deciding between their beloved iPod or a new version of Windows, and they just had to have Vista – Microsoft is more than happy to sell you their music solution visa vie the “Zune”.  


See anyway you slice it Microsoft stands to Win – the rest of us, well, I’m not so sure!