As soon as an iPod or iPhone is plugged into the PC, Vista crashes and shows the "Blue Screen of Death," the critical error screen on a blue background that requires a reboot to recover, users said. The errors began showing up immediately after updating iTunes to version 8.0, which Apple released Tuesday as part of its iPod refresh.
"I just installed iTunes 8 over my iTunes 7 on Vista [and] now whenever I plug in my iPod, I get a blue screen death. Three times so far. Even if it is plugged in on boot, I get a blue screen," said a user identified as "sambeckett" on the support forum about 90 minutes after Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrapped up the iPod launch.
The thread, which as of early Thursday had been viewed nearly 10,000 times and sported almost 300 messages, also quickly accumulated theories about the cause. The Vista error message, for example, fingered an Apple-provided USB driver, several users said.
"I think it's safe to say then that either Apple's USB driver shipped with iTunes 8 is broken on Vista, or it's causing a problem with some other common Vista driver," speculated a user named "Mike de Awesome."
Numerous users reported that they were able to avoid the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) by unplugging peripherals from their PCs' USB ports, particularly Hewlett-Packard Co. printers and scanners, and in some cases, keyboards, mice and cameras made by Logitech International SA.
Others, however, disputed that fix. "I tried another clean install last night, same BSoD problem," said "bryankaras" early Thursday morning. "I have no HP drivers, no HP printer, no Logitech drivers or peripherals."
"I disconnected all of my USB devices except for the mouse and keyboard, and also disconnected [my] Belken USB hub," echoed "CobraBob" on the same thread. "BSOD. I then disconnected the HP LaserJet parallel cable. BSOD. So my conclusion is that this issue is not solely applicable to HP printers with a USB interface. If this is a USB issue then I'm stumped because with all of my devices unplugged, including the LaserJet parallel printer, I still get the BSOD."
One message on the thread purported to come from an Apple employee, who asked users to report their findings to him via an Apple e-mail account. "Look in the Programs and Feature Control Panel. Do you have Logitech Setpoint software installed?" asked "RoyB" Tuesday afternoon. "Does the issue go away if you remove the Logitech software and reboot the computer?"
Not surprisingly, users vented.
"Funny how iTunes 7 worked flawlessly before I downloaded iTunes 8," said "GogoGadget69" Tuesday. "It couldn't be iTunes 8 could it? And by the way the entire world is getting fantastic 3G reception on the iPhone 3G. And MobileMe has always worked fantastic!!! I love how Apple owns up to problems... IT'S NOT US! IT MUST BE YOU! OR MICROSOFT! OR YOUR MOUSE! OR YOUR CHAIR!"
"This is unbelievable. Who beta tests this software? Oh wait...obviously no one," said "davestoltz" on the thread. "Microsoft would get raked over the coals if they put out this kind of garbage."
iTunes has generated BSoD errors before, most recently after Windows Vista users updated to version 7.7 in July. A support document spelled out the problem, which was limited to 64-bit editions of the Microsoft Corp. operating system. "Attempting to connect an iPhone or iPod touch, which has been updated with the latest iPhone 2.0 software, to iTunes 7.7 on a 64-bit Microsoft Vista platform may cause the system to unexpectedly quit and display a blue error message screen," the document read.
At the time, Apple recommended that users update to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).
This week's problem, however, was not limited to 64-bit Vista, according to the user reports.
Apple and HP officials were not available for comment.