Saturday, May 26, 2007

Apple TV and Windows Vista?

As one of the final components of my media room, I excitedly bought an Apple TV yesterday. Really, I just want to be able to watch my favorite video podcasts on it, but I may also buy some movies or TV shows on iTunes eventually.

The problem is, I can't get it to sync with my Windows Vista Business Edition PC.

The setup couldn't have been easier. Plug in the HDMI cable to the TV. Plug in the power. Walk through the network setup wizard. It connected to my 802.11g wireless network with WPA encryption - no problems.

Then, I fired up iTunes on my PC. Apple TV requires iTunes 7.1 or higher. No problem. I've got the latest iTunes. The Apple TV was instantly detected in iTunes, and it walked me through the authorization process with the iTunes Music Store. All went well.

It appeared to begin the "sync" process of copying my selected iTunes info to the Apple TV hard drive over the wireless network. However, there would be a sliver of progress, and then it would hang. I let it sit overnight, thinking maybe the initial sync was just slow due to the huge amount of content it had to transfer.

No such luck. I woke up this morning and there was no additional progress.

The Apple TV is connecting to my network and to the internet fine. I can view all of the movie trailers and content directly from the iTunes Music Store. I just can't view anything from my iTunes on my Vista PC.

I've gone through all of the troubleshooting documentation. I have:
- Disabled Windows Firewall
- Opened up suggested ports on my Linksys router
- Disabled ALL non-Microsoft startup services, except for iTunes related services
- Connected the Apple TV directly to my router with a wired connection
- Restored the Apple TV to factory settings and started over
- Rebooted all equipment (cable modem, router, computer, Apple TV)

I don't think the problem is related to my wireless network in any way. I think it's just Vista.

Many people are reporting syncing problems with Vista, but those who have gotten it working don't have any special advice.

Any ideas out there?

Please don't bother with the "Get a Mac!" advice. I already have a Mac. Unfortunately for me, it's provided by the company I work for, and I cannot move my iTunes library to it. While I may buy my own personal Mac in the future, that time is not now, so that advice is useless to me.

I also won't ditch Vista for XP (the officially supported Windows OS for Apple TV). I've had no problems with Vista thus far, and honestly I think the responsibility lies with Apple this time around to make their products (Apple TV and iTunes) work with Vista, or don't advertise Windows compatibility at all. Vista was already available when the Apple TV was released. If Apple couldn't make the thing work with the current version of Windows, they shouldn't have claimed Windows compatibility.

I've been working on this for almost 24 hours. If I can't get it working tonight, the Apple TV will go back to Best Buy where I got it, with a big dose of tarnish on Apple's reputation in my mind.


Alan said...

I bought an Apple TV within the first few weeks it was available (in March or April?). Like you, I find it absolutely spectacular for podcasts, a growing number of which are in HD. The HD podcasts look great!

I have a Windows Vista Ultimate PC and an 802.11g router. It works with no problems. I suggest you get the latest iTunes update on your PC and the latest Quicktime update. Somewhere along the way, I had to update Quicktime after I updated iTunes. This may not make sense, but it did work for me.

I have had no problems. Also, the photo slideshow capabilities are great! 802.11g works fine, even for no-skip links to iTunes for Movie trailers, etc.

You will love your Apple TV.

Feel free to send me email with any comments or questions.

Good Luck!


David said...

I can't offer you any technical advice, as I live in OS X, but I would caution you against placing the blame for this only on Apple. They're certainly not the only vendor having great difficulty getting things to work properly with Vista.

Have you looked around on Apple's discussion boards?

I hope you find a solution there. I find Apple's support discussion boards to be an excellent resource for trouble-shooting. People I know that have bought Apple TVs love them, and I hope you can get yours working properly. Good luck!

Paul said...

Get an external USB hard drive. Copy your iTunes folder from your Vista PC to the drive.

Plug the drive into the Mac. Fire up iTunes on the Mac and go to Preferences: Advanced and have iTunes load from the library on the external drive instead of the internal drive (default).

This way, you are using the Mac, but your content is actually located on your own drive which you can simply unplug if the Mac has to be taken back by your company. Your iTunes content will not exist on the Mac's drive. Apple TV will still be able to stream/sync from the Mac in this set-up.

Paul said...

My advice is simple: just wait.

By being an "early adopter" of both Apple TV and Windows Vista, you have placed yourself in double-danger of running into the usual growing pains and incompatibilities that inevitably attach to any new tech product, especially one that involves software.

I wouldn't blame this on either Microsoft or Apple. Quite frankly (and no offence) I blame it on you. Haven't you ever heard about the "bleeding edge"? How exactly did you expect to sidestep this well-known 'problem zone'.

Use Eastern principles. Be like the water. When a way forward is difficult, *just don't go that way*. In six months all will be worn down and you will be able to travel wherever you like. Always be *at least* six months behind, and you will come out ahead in the end, because you will recover more than half of your troubleshooting time.

This applies to all tech products everywhere on the planet, including everything designed by Apple. Leopard, for example, has *not* been delayed until September. For me it's been delayed until next Spring...

Shelly said...

Thanks for the suggestions! I've currently got it running on my MacBook Pro (though not the ideal solution, since that machine is supposed to be for business use only).

As for the bleeding edge - pre-release and beta products are "bleeding" edge in my mind. Production releases from major manufacturers should be functional. Cutting edge, maybe.