If You’re an iTunes User, Don’t Buy Microsoft’s Surface Pro Tablet

When the Surface Pro tablet was announced by Microsoft, I was excited. It would be the first non-Apple tablet that could handle all my iTunes content, including my large library of movies and TV shows that I had purchased, while still allowing me to access other digital ecosystems, like movies from Amazon, stream shows from network TV websites that require the use of Adobe’s Flash Player, and also watch Google Play movies. I would also be able to also do any and all of the work I could do on my home PC while at the same time have the ultimate, portable content consumption device in a very compact and mobile form factor. However, I soon realized that my love affair for iTunes made the Surface Pro a bad choice, and this isn’t any fault of Microsoft’s but rather a problem with Apple’s iTunes software.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAccording to Apple’s iTunes webpage, the minimum PC system requirements for iTunes include a device with a 1GHz Intel or AMD processor and 512MB of RAM. I was good to go with the specs of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet with its dual-core Intel Core i5 CPU, Windows 8 Pro OS, and ample 4 GB RAM. When I was using the Microsoft tablet, I had updated all the drivers and installed all of Windows’ recommended updates for the system, meaning that all my drivers and software was up to date along with the iTunes 11.0.2 version that I installed for Windows.

However, when it came time to play movies and TV shows, I quickly noticed that after a few minutes, audio would go out of sync with the video. Essentially what that means is that the video would be about 2-3 seconds faster than the audio, which would look weird when characters on the screen began to talk and their voices trailed. It’s like a bad case of lip synching.

There were several suggestions from Apple and the Apple support community, and I’ve tried most–if not–all of those suggestions. One suggestion suggested that I checked the box to disable audio enhancement from my sound driver, which I did. That didn’t work. I’ve also tried downloading the video file rather than streaming the file without download through iCloud, a new feature introduced in iTunes 11.0.2, and that did not work. It didn’t matter if the video file was native or if I was streaming it on a fast broadband connection. I had even tried attaching wired external speakers, but the problem of audio sync error persisted.

In summary, Microsoft’s Surface Pro can handle iTunes and it’s fine if you’re playing audio-only files, like music. However, video files did not seem to cooperate and Microsoft’s Answer Desk at the company’s retail stores could not give me any solutions or answers–they claim that this is the first they’ve heard of the issue. I believe this is an issue with how Apple’s software interacts with the PC’s hardware and that Apple needs to do a better job at testing software and making sure it’s compatible with drivers and various hardware components.

I had hoped to use the Surface Pro’s discrete size as a media center PC while traveling to play my iTunes subscriptions to favorite TV shows like The Big Bang Theory, streaming The Good Wife from CBS.com, watching my Amazon Instant Video and Netflix streams, and also enjoy How I Met Your Mother on Google Play. I could still do all of that, but for now, my large library on iTunes is held captive until Apple and Microsoft can sort out the issues. In the interim, I can make due with Apple TV, Roku, and Google TV, though neither of them would allow Flash streaming content to CBS.com and other network websites.

Comments

  1. Kai-Jürgen Lietz says

    I have no such problems on my Asus EP121 with Windows 8. I use the tablet exactly in the scenario you described. The only difference: the i5 used in the EP121 and the graphics are a generation older.

  2. dryogeshd says

    How can you possibly give such an outrageous title to your article? even if the problem is with the iTunes software you don’t want people from buying the surface pro?? are you serious? it is highly likely that Apple will eventually fix the issue.. but still you don’t want people to buy a device which is far advanced and powerful enough to fulfill most of your needs to be bought at all? why doesn’t your title say… ” iTunes sucks, so don’t buy Apple products” or “Apple can’t make a simple software that is reliable”

    • tabing says

      I totally agree with you. These authors don’t know nothing about tech and still dare to write articles like that. His reputation in my view is zero now.

  3. Don says

    I have to agree with dryogeshd. I use the RT and ALL of my media files (MP4, MP3, etc.) work great. If the issue is Apple then call them out on it not Microsoft!

  4. John says

    Ditto with dryogeshd and Don. I have a Pro and everything I’ve thrown at it so far has played great – HD MKV’s, and every format of every consumer camera and camcorder, even my Logitech security system videos. Title of article should say “Don’t use iTunes if you want to watch video on a Surface tablet.” Point the finger where the problem is.

  5. Mslack says

    Title sucks, extremely misleading and besmirching to Microsoft. Call out the actual company whose created the issue

  6. Kyu says

    Is there any point to this article? Why would anyone buy a microsoft product and hope to use Apple’s products on it and complain??? Maybe you should find a way to turn it into a hackintosh

  7. Tyler says

    Why would you use iTunes to watch videos in a Windows environment? The built in video player on the Surface Pro works flawlessly. I use iTunes to update my iPhone via my Surface and have never had problems with syncing or downloading. I wouldn’t even consider using it to watch videos…music, yes….videos, no.

    • Tara says

      I have been looking everywhere for an answer to the question “can I sync my iPhone on a surface pro?” And you’ve answered it, thank you! :)

  8. Bilbo says

    Here’s the solution – it’s an high DPI issue. Disable DPI scaling for iTunes and it will work fine – although iTunes might look a bit wonky. Alternatively, try playing the movies with QuickTime instead of iTunes.

  9. Emodogg says

    I’m running Itunes on my surface pro (even though I now use xbox music) with no issues. Google chrome also works as a desktop browser but it’s optimized for touch, so it’s best to go with internet explorer. Surface pro has NO issues running itunes, and it installs factory ready.

    • Anon says

      I have the same problem with iTunes. I have my movies through iTunes so I would like to watch them whenever I want. It’s not there is a downloadable vudu service. How else am I supposed to play my downloaded iTunes movies without skips and sound defects? I’ll gladly run something other than iTunes if it’ll play my iTunes movies. How about giving some advice on some alternatives instead of bashing the article 400 freakin times. I came here looking for an answer and I have to sift through all of you people’s unfiltered crap. One mention saying hey it’s apple not the surface would have been enough, damn. Give feedback that’s useful or shut up please so someone with actual information doesn’t get overlooked because hisor her post is surrounded by needless bashing. And you people wonder what’s wrong with the world, wow.

  10. Gerry says

    Wow! I’d just like iTunes to open. Every time I click on it I get an “iTunes has stopped working” message and I am forced to close it down.

  11. Christina Garcia says

    What an irresponsible, broad-stroke title. iTunes works on Surface Pro, just like it would on any other Windows PC. Installed on the desktop it works flawlessly. I agree with a previous comment: why complain when a Apple product wont work on PC. Go to an Apple Store and buy an iPad. Oh, wait, its not even a Mac, it’s a toy.

    Apple has issues with their software and Windows. Remote Desktop for Mac worked great when Apple based it on PC. Then, in a stroke od Apple “genius” released it in Intel. Now its useless. Or the iPhone, first generation did not include cut and paste or more than one Exchange account (unless you jailbroke it.). Apple wants to make inroads into Microsoft’s saturation of enterprise, but they keep cutting their nose off to spite their face.

    You have no credibility on technical knowledge or as a blogger.

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