Apple releases iTunes 8 update to fix Vista blue screen of death

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3:20 pm EDT September 12, 2008 - Apple has released an updated version of iTunes 8 to correct the BSOD problems some users have been experiencing after installing the software. The issue relates to a driver that conflicts with Windows Vista.

In a support posting, Apple said: "After installing iTunes 8 for Windows, some users may see a blue screen error message when connecting iPhone or iPod to a Windows Vista computer. In some cases, the computer may immediately restart when connecting iPhone or iPod to the computer."

"Unfortunately iTunes is known for pushing out components that Windows users don't necessarily want," remarked Microsoft blogger Brandon LeBlanc on the Windows Vista blog.

iTunes users running Vista are instructed to completely uninstall the application and re-download iTunes 8.

Some Windows users are getting the infamous "blue screen of death" after installing the iTunes 8 update, which some say tracks back to extra software that is being installed along with iTunes.

Users posting on Apple's support forums began reporting the issues almost immediately after the software's release. "Whenever I plug in my ipod nano, I get a blue screen death," the initial poster reported. "Before itunes 8 I never seen a blue screen with vista since it came out." [sic]

The 300-odd replies that followed reported similar troubles. The problem seemed to be triggered by any Apple iPod device being attached, and in some cases users had to restore in order to regain access to their machines.

A downgrade back to iTunes 7.7 seems to be a remedy, although in order to avoid errors, users must apparently uninstall all Apple software. This could result in some data loss.

The problem appears to be centered around an update to a driver known as "GEARAspiWDM.sys." Its use in Windows is to help third-party applications write to CD and DVD drives, but it also has a history of causing trouble in the form of system crashes.

Another driver being identified in crash reports is an updated USB controller driver, which appears to be in use when the iPod device is connected. Since the crash happens as the iPod is recognized via USB, this is a likely cause.

ZDNet blogger Ed Bott conducted tests that showed in his case the GEARAspiWDM.sys driver appeared to be the problem. While using System Restore to reinstall the previous version of the driver for iTunes 7.7 seemed to solve the crash problem, Bott reported, deleting it rendered CD and DVD burning through iTunes inoperable.

The crash problems are not the only issue. Additional testing of the software on Windows computers indicates that Apple is still installing MobileMe without users' consent -- or even after giving users a choice, and after they choose "no." However, this time the company appears to be giving users an option to uninstall the service through the Windows Control Panel.

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