iTunes users who still run Windows XP started to experience connectivity issues this week. As documented in an Apple Support Communities thread, they can’t log into the iTunes store, meaning functions like buying content, watching already purchased movies and TV shows, playing DRM-protected content, backing up, updating, and syncing all do not work.

The error message reads as follows: “We could not complete your iTunes request. An unknown error occurred (error 0x80090326).” Some users also report they get an “error -50” message, that the error messages switch between the two codes, or they simply get an “unknown error.”

The issue has to do with the secure connection iTunes uses to connect to the iTunes Store, meaning it doesn’t affect users until they try to log in. While the support thread in question only has some 50 replies at the time of publishing, we expect it to grow quickly as more and more users get logged out and try to log back in.

Users who run network connection (iTunes Help => Diagnostics) get some variation of the following:

Connection attempt to Apple web site was successful.
Connection attempt to browsing iTunes Store was successful.
Connection attempt to purchasing from iTunes Store was unsuccessful.
An unknown error occurred (0x80090326).
Connection attempt to iPhone activation server was successful.
Connection attempt to firmware update server was successful.
Connection attempt to Gracenote server was successful.

In other words, the iTunes version doesn’t matter — it’s the communication protocol that seems to have changed. Most users are on iTunes 12.1.2, and there was no update this week that could be blamed. One user even booted up an old Windows XP machine to try iTunes 11, but got the same error.

It appears that Apple changed something on Monday night or Tuesday morning and either didn’t bother testing on Windows XP or simply didn’t care it would leave XP users behind. Apple Support has not managed to help iTunes users figure out a solution, though one user was pointed to a Microsoft Support page describing an update that adds the following Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) cipher suites to Windows Server 2003:

  • TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_128_CBC_SHA AES128-SHA
  • TLS_RSA_WITH_AES_256_CBC_SHA AES256-SHA

If this is what Windows XP users need in order for iTunes working properly again, they aren’t going to get it. Microsoft retired Mainstream Support for Windows XP on April 14, 2009, and then pulled Extended Support for the operating system on April 8, 2014.

It looks like Apple will need to revert to the previous security encryption settings for the iTunes connection, assuming it still wants to support Windows XP users. Last month, Windows XP still had over 16 percent market share, according to Net Applications, though it’s difficult to say how many use iTunes.

We have contacted both Apple and Microsoft about this issue and will update you if we hear back.