Continued, the Format Wars have

Bill Quick finds out something you might want to know before you start loading up your Microsoft Surface tablet:

I backed up all my music files to my SDHC card from the iTunes library. I’d used iTunes to rip my CD collection, and it had automatically created the files in the .M4A format — which, as it turns out, Windows RT-8 doesn’t like at all. After a lot of headbanging, I discovered that Windows RT-8 likes MP3 files. As an experiment I converted a bunch of the M4As to MP3s, copied them to the SDHC chip, stuck it back in to the Surface and, presto! — both the Music Library and the Music App picked them right up. So right now, in the background, I’d converting 15GB or so of M4A files to MP3 — which I figure will take the rest of the day. It’s a one time deal, though, and since I’ll be doing any music buying through Amazon and not the damnable iTunes store, I’ll be getting my stuff in MP3 format anyway.

This is fairly typical of Microsoft. As a test, I hauled out an XPdient copy of Windows Media Player, threw one of Apple’s AAC files — these are the ones with the .m4a extension — at it, and watched it choke for lack of codec. Apple, in turn, doesn’t think much of Microsoft’s .wma format either.

Curiously, while messing with this I found half a dozen files with the .m4a extension which turned out not to be AAC at all; Winamp, which doesn’t flinch at AAC unless it’s DRMed (signaled by the .m4p extension), balked at playing them but would at least let me open the info panel. Turns out that they were actual Apple Lossless files from the How to Destroy Angels EP, which I’d evidently never gotten around to importing into iTunes.


  1. McGehee »

    3 December 2012 · 5:52 pm

    And I don’t suppose installing iTunes on WinRT is an option, is it? I could have guessed that from the fact you can’t use Firefox on it either.

    The R in Windows RT stands for Regressive.

  2. CGHill »

    3 December 2012 · 6:29 pm

    Not to mention the humongous bloat factor of any recent iTunes, especially the Windows versions.

  3. Bill Quick »

    3 December 2012 · 6:39 pm

    McGehee, FF isn’t on the iPad, either.

    The Surface is a ARM-based tablet with much improved input methods, especially the keyboard, as well as most of the major elements of the Office Suite – which means you can use it for real work.

    I hate iTunes, so I don’t miss that I can’t have it on a MS tablet. I hardly consider that “regressive,” although YMMV. What I do know is that I spent more than a thousand bucks loading up on an iPad One in hopes of being able to use it as something other than a vehicle for mindless content consumption, and it has mostly gathered dust ever since.

    Today I took my Surface to the coffee shop, hauled it out, and cranked out five pages of the outline for my next novel, just as fast and easily as I could have done with my Toshiba Ultrabook. This baby won’t be gathering dust. And it has nearly six more hours of battery life than the UB, not to mention weighing about 3/4 lb. less.

  4. McGehee »

    4 December 2012 · 6:42 am

    McGehee, FF isn’t on the iPad, either.

    One of the reasons I don’t have one.

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