Report: iTunes 8 installs BSOD-causing drivers on Windows

— 12:25 PM on September 11, 2008

Apple loves to poke fun at Windows machines for the occasional blue screen of death, but it doesn't seem to be helping matters. Following reports of stability problems caused by Apple's new iTunes 8 release in Windows, ZDNet's Ed Bott has discovered that the jukebox software installs crash-prone drivers without informing users (let alone asking them).

Bott says iTunes 8 installs not only QuickTime, but also Apple Mobile Device Support, MobileMe, and two driver updates. One of those drivers—a USB controller update—reportedly identifies itself in many users' blue-screen error messages. The other—GEARAspiWDM.sys—has "a long and colorful history of causing Windows crashes," according to Bott.

This driver [GEARAspiWDM.sys] is typically used with third-party programs that write to CD and DVD drives. The old iTunes versions of this driver is dated January 29, 2008. The new one is from April 17, 2008. . . . I remember dealing with it back in Windows 2000 days. And sure enough, a search for GEARAspiWDM.sys BSOD turns up thousands of hits. I’ve also found anecdotal reports of this driver causing iTunes to crash, including this one from the Gear Software forum last May.

So, are the drivers really causing widespread problems? Bott claims to have fallen victim to a GEARAspiWDM.sys-induced system lockup himself after plugging in an iPod. Replacing the file with an older version put a stop to the crashes. A quick look at the official Apple support forums shows many users suffering from similar problems, as well.

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