Ed Bott and Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, our colleagues at ZDNet.com, have been tracking reports of Windows machines crashing after being upgraded to Apple's iTunes 8. Apple appears to have hidden more than just iTunes and QuickTime updates within the iTunes 8 upgrade, and Bott believes these secretly installed files are prime suspects for the BSOD errors.To see what software is sneaking along with the upgrade, see Ed's image gallery: Apple's sneaky iTunes 8 install.
According to Bott, the "package includes the Bonjour service (which has been a part of iTunes for a long time), plus Apple Mobile Device Support and MobileMe." In addition to the new software, Bott also uncovered a few driver updates—a USB controller update and a new file-system filter driver used by CD/DVD burning programs.
These driver updates, appear to be the source of the Windows BSOD errors. Bott describes his experience with each of the driver updates:
One is a USB controller update, which is apparently used when connecting an iPod or iPhone to the system. On my system, this driver file was copied to the system but was not installed until I connected an iPod Mini via a USB port. Most of the trouble reports on the Apple forum indicate that this driver is identifying itself in the text that appears on the STOP error page. The only clue that this driver is being installed is in the System Restore dialog box.
In addition to this driver, the system also updates the GEARAspiWDM.sys driver (in Windows\System32\Drivers). I had to dig deep to discover this change, which is not documented anywhere. This driver 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. This driver has a long and colorful history of causing Windows crashes. I remember dealing with it back in Windows 2000 days. And sure enough, a search for GEARAspiWDM.sys BSOD turns up thousands of hits.
If your users have been experiencing Windows BSOD errors, check for the iTunes 8 update. If you find it, you might want to try rolling back the iTunes upgrade.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.