I am actually listening to some tunes via the latest release as I type this. Thanks to me already having it downloaded, I was able to update it easily from the Help menu and the rest as they say, is history. Outside of some drastic speed improvements, the main thing I noticed was missing was the questionable MP3 search engine known as SkreemeR. What makes it different is that a user is able to type in a song or musician name into the search box. From there they are presented with a list of likely song titles, the option to buy them off of Amazon, listen to the song in a Flash player or just download it illegally from a site not affiliated with SkreemR. See, SkreemR is just linking to, not hosting the music.
This being said, I think that Songbird has come a LONG way. Works well with all iPods (outside of the Touch), it does indeed feel a lot like a real iTunes competitor at the music level. Yes, I wish they would come up with a way to provide a much stronger Amazon MP3 store presence, but still, just as a jukebox, using cool plugins for an iTunes-like album art display feel like “Coverflow”, I see Songbird tearing things up.
Can I honestly say that this is something that is going to compete with iTunes on Windows and OS X? Not so much, but not because of the application itself. Personally, I really do not care for iTunes and their DRM headache inflicting, slow running application. The only thing iTunes has over Songbird in my honest opinion is the music store. Yes, there are movies too, but we are talking about Songbird, not Moviebird, right? At the purist level, strictly on a music front, I see Songbird in a very strong second position to iTunes. Find a way to get support for the iPhone, iPod Touch and amongst better support for MTP devices. Sorry, but considering all of the Jukebox applications I use on my Linux desktop support every MTP known to man, I see NO REASON whatsoever why it means Songbird needs Windows XP+ and WMP 11. The very idea, is simply stupid and clearly, easily avoidable. Guess this is the price we pay for mass market adoption at all costs. Screw the users that would use the application exclusively, let ’em stick to iPods! Come on Songbird, let’s get the collective heads removed from the collective backsides on this.
All of this said, at the end of the day, I think Songbird is great. I own a Nano, so syncing is very simple to do – even by iTunes standards – it really syncs in much the same way. Despite my head shaking frustration at something as simple as better support for MTP devices, Songbird has come a really long way. Just need to get more consistent on support for those external devices!