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Duplicating iLife Functionality on Windows Systems

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Apple's iLife '05 is a home run solution for digital media on your Mac. But what if you run a PC? That is a big deal because you can't run any Mac software in Windows. Is there a solution? Indeed! Matthew David tells you how you can use some creativity to substitute the tools you have in iLife with equivalent solutions that run within Windows.
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Are you envious of Mac users who get to play with cool tools? Especially the suite of tools called iLife '05? iLife is a collection of tools that make managing your digital assets, images, and audio and video not only fun but cool.

The iLife suite includes all these products:

  • iTunes

    Manages your music collection; you can also buy new music at the iTunes Store

  • iPhoto

    Allows you to easily manage all your digital photographs and images

  • iMovie

    Enables you to create nonlinear digital movies quickly and easily

  • iDVD

    Allows you to create professional-level quality DVDs with assets from iTunes, iPhoto, and iMovie

  • Garage Band

    Lets you record, mix, and manage up to four tracks of music

The whole suite is available only for the Mac at the incredibly reasonable price of $79 (or free if you buy a Mac Mini). The suite of tools works incredibly well together.

But you run Windows XP! Apple does not make a Windows version of iLife. What can you do?

Fortunately, not only can you replicate what the Apple folks have but you might be able to one-up them on the functionality of some products, and others are just downright cheaper.

Windows Version of iTunes

The main advantage of iTunes is that you can organize and play MP3 and other music on your hard drive. The secondary advantage is that you can buy music from the iTunes Store. The good news for Windows users is that there are a lot of choices in this market, and all of them are free.

The first option is Apple iTunes. Yes, iTunes is the only element in iLife that is available for the Windows platform. It does a really good job of managing music on your computer. The store is also really easy to use. The downside to iTunes is that it is tied exclusively to the iPod music player. You can't synch Rio, iRiver, or Creative MP3 players with iTunes. (Who is even buying those products?)

Behind Apple iTunes is Microsoft's own Windows Media Player, in which all the tools you expect from iTunes are available. An additional feature that I really like is an integrated video and DVD player. On the Mac, you need multiple products to view and watch movies. Not so for Windows Media Player. You will also find that Windows Media Player lets you buy music from a virtual mall of music stores such as Napster, MSN Music, and many others. You will also be able to synch any MP3 player. The only MP3 Player that does not work with Windows Media Player is the iPod.

Another great competitor to iTunes is AOL's WinAmp 5. WinAmp does not have a store you can buy music from, and it does not synch with MP3 players—but it has a cool interface, great extensions, and was the first really popular music player.

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