On 20 April, the iTunes Store stopped working for anyone running iTunes on Windows XP. For two days, the internet forums blazed brightly as one side claimed Apple was deliberately torpedoing Windows, the other hotly insisting Apple was perfectly within its rights to stop supporting an obsolete operating system. But they all missed the point.
This wasn’t a deliberate action at all. It was a mistake. Apple developers changed the encryption for iTunes Store connections and didn’t properly test it on all the operating systems supported by iTunes. XP is still on that
“When XP was released, Macs were still running Puma”
list, so this was an oversight. But it’s an easy oversight to make considering XP is 14 years old now and even Microsoft doesn’t support it anymore.
When XP was released, Macs were still running OS X 10.1 (Puma). Hands up if your Intel Mac is even running Leopard. Exactly. That’s because Apple has, since Snow Leopard, made OS X inexpensive or free, and it uses upgrades as a way of selling more Macs. But Microsoft makes its money from selling the OS, which means fewer customers upgrade. Over time, users get spread over more and more versions, and the customer support and testing resources get spread thinner and thinner.
In iTunes’ case, that affects us as well. To fix the store error for XP users, Apple had to roll back the encryption to the previous (and presumably less secure) version for everyone.