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What just happened? Apple has been migrating PCs away from iTunes for years in favor of separate music, video, and device management apps. The process is nearing completion as the Cupertino giant's media apps receive a stable release for all Windows users. How much time iTunes has left remains unclear.
All Windows 10 and Windows 11 users can now download Apple's new music, TV, and mobile device management apps from the Windows store. The Windows iCloud app also received a visual overhaul. Legacy iTunes remains available, but Apple wants users to transition to the new apps, eventually discontinuing the old all-in-one software.
Apple Music allows users to manage songs purchased through iTunes, organize non-iTunes songs, and enjoy the company's music streaming service with a subscription. Apple TV handles purchased movies and television shows while letting subscribers stream content from Apple TV+ and Major League Soccer Season Pass. Apple TV and Netflix are the only streaming apps that support 4K HDR on Windows.
Lastly, the Apple Devices app syncs content between PCs and iPhones or iPads. It's also where users backup, restore, and manually update mobile devices.
Users must choose between installing only iTunes or all three new apps. Downloading one of them prompts users to install the others, which will then check and integrate a user's existing iTunes library, moving it away from iTunes. After the switch, the old iTunes app will only handle podcasts and audiobooks.
Windows computers that don't support the new apps can still use iTunes. Although Apple ceased updating iTunes on macOS, as of last month, it has continued pushing regular updates to the Windows version. It is unclear how long Apple plans to continue supporting the 20-year-old software.
Apple first split iTunes into three components for macOS systems in 2019. The process for Windows began in 2022 with preview versions of the media apps for Windows 11. The full release introduces them to Windows 10 users, who still comprise the majority of Windows installations.
Additionally, Apple has introduced a new interface for the Windows iCloud app. The functionality is mostly unchanged, but the update gives it a more compact interface with fewer prompts. It also introduces support for physical security keys. However, users may need to reconfigure iCloud Drive and File Explorer integration.