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Apple re-releases iTunes 8 to fix Vista 'blue screen of death'

Ditches buggy driver for earlier version; users must uninstall, then reinstall

September 12, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Apple Inc. late yesterday re-released iTunes 8 for Windows to roll back a buggy driver that had been bricking Windows Vista PCs with dreaded "blue screen of death" crashes since Tuesday.

In a support document posted around 8:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Apple urged Vista users who had been unable to synchronize their iPods or iPhones using iTunes 8 to uninstall both iTunes and an Apple-provided device driver, then download and reinstall the entire 75MB package yet again.

From Vista's "Uninstall a Program" control panel, users should ditch the "Apple Mobile Device Support" driver as well as iTunes itself, then restart the PC. "Re-download and install the updated iTunes 8 installer from www.apple.com/itunes/download," said Apple. "Do not use the iTunes8Setup or iTunes864Setup file you previously downloaded."

Users running Microsoft Corp.'s Vista operating system had reported problems almost as soon as the updated iTunes 8 was posted for download Tuesday. According to scores of users on the Apple support forum, plugging in an iPod or iPhone caused Vista to crash, then display the "blue screen of death" (BSOD), a Windows critical error screen best known for its blue background.

The BSOD message fingered an Apple-provided USB driver -- "usbaapl.sys" in the 32-bit version of Vista, "usbaapl64.sys" in the 64-bit edition of the operating system -- as the culprit. Windows identifies that driver as "Apple Mobile Device Support" in Vista's uninstaller.

According to Windows blogger Ed Bott, who first reported on the iTunes re-release, Apple simply dumped buggy versions of usbaapl.sys and usbaapl64.sys, and swapped in older editions from a July iTunes update.

Computerworld confirmed that a copy of iTunes 8 downloaded late Thursday, after Apple re-issued the application, installed the same older 31.2KB driver identified by Bott. In Computerworld's case, however, the usbaapl.sys driver was date-stamped as July 10, not July 22, as Bott said.

Apple released iTunes 7.7 on July 10 as part of its run-up to the iPhone 3G launch, and the unveiling of both the iPhone 2.0 software and the MobileMe online sync and storage service.

Users who uninstalled and then reinstalled iTunes 8 said the process did the trick. "The updated iTunes seems to have fixed the BSOD Vista problem for me," reported "ckong" on the longest thread devoted to the crashes.

Others, however, knocked Apple for not reissuing iTunes under a different version number. "God, what a disaster: Now we have two different versions of software and drivers that have the same version number!" said "Pirx07" on the same thread Thursday night.

"Was there any way to handle this more incompetently?" added "Pirx07."

Read more about Windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.



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