How iTunes Could Kill Windows 8 Tablets

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It seems unlikely you'll ever see an iTunes icon here.
It seems unlikely you'll ever see an iTunes icon here.

Despite being totally dedicated to Mac OS X right now, I can’t help but get excited about Windows 8. Having enjoyed the Metro UI experience with Windows Phone, I can’t wait to try it out on a tablet. And I know a lot of users feel the same way. But one thing that could put many of them off Windows 8 slates is the lack of iTunes.

Microsoft knows this, and it knows it’s a real problem that could kill Windows 8 tablets before they’ve even hit the market in the minds of many consumers.

For Microsoft to make Windows 8 a success, it’ll need the support of its biggest rival: Apple. A huge portion of Windows users use iOS devices that they sync with their PCs, and the iTunes Store for purchasing music, movies, TV shows, and apps. Of course, they need iTunes to do that.

The problem is, Windows 8 tablets run a touch-friendly version of the operating system built for ARM processors that exclusively uses the Metro user interface. It’s not like the PC version, which allows you to switch between the Metro and traditional Windows UIs. And because of this, Microsoft is encouraging developers to adapt their applications for the Metro UI.

There’s a good chance that Apple — a company famous for playing by its own rules — will decide it doesn’t want to play ball. And if that turns out to be the case, it’s one reason why consumers may decide not to adopt a Windows 8 tablet.

Rick Sherland, an analyst with Nomura Securities, believes “the incentive is for Apple not to do this.”

“If I can’t get iTunes on [a Windows 8 on ARM tablet],” Sherland continued, “that’s a big deal for me.”

Of course, Windows 8 does come with its own music app, which users could transfer all of their content to. But it’s not iTunes, and it won’t sync with iOS devices.

This is a problem Microsoft has been thinking about, according to Jay Greene over at CNET. Although the company declined to comment on the matter, its CEO, Steve Ballmer, revealed last year that Microsoft would “welcome Metro-style application from Apple in the iTunes case.”

“I don’t know what we’d see there,” Ballmer said. “But we’d certainly welcome those.”

Apple also declined to comment, CNET reports.

Do you think Apple will adapt iTunes for the Metro UI? And would a lack of iTunes encourage you to avoid Windows 8 tablets?