The latest version of iTunes crashes Windows Vista when an iPod or iPhone is connected to the PC, scores of users have reported on Apple's support forum.

As soon as an iPod or iPhone is plugged into the PC, Vista crashes and shows the "Blue Screen of Death," the critical error screen on a blue background that requires a reboot to recover, users said. The errors began showing up immediately after updating iTunes to version 8.0, which Apple released Tuesday as part of its iPod refresh.

"I just installed iTunes 8 over my iTunes 7 on Vista [and] now whenever I plug in my iPod, I get a blue screen death. Three times so far. Even if it is plugged in on boot, I get a blue screen," said a user identified as "sambeckett" on the support forum about 90 minutes after Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrapped up the iPod launch.

The thread, which as of early Thursday had been viewed nearly 10,000 times and sported almost 300 messages, also quickly accumulated theories about the cause. The Vista error message, for example, fingered an Apple-provided USB driver, several users said.

"I think it's safe to say then that either Apple's USB driver shipped with iTunes 8 is broken on Vista, or it's causing a problem with some other common Vista driver," speculated a user named "Mike de Awesome."

Numerous users reported that they were able to avoid the Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) by unplugging peripherals from their PCs' USB ports, particularly Hewlett-Packard Co. printers and scanners, and in some cases, keyboards, mice and cameras made by Logitech International SA.

Others, however, disputed that fix. "I tried another clean install last night, same BSoD problem," said "bryankaras" early Thursday morning. "I have no HP drivers, no HP printer, no Logitech drivers or peripherals."

iTunes has generated BSoD errors before, most recently after Windows Vista users updated to version 7.7 in July. A support document spelled out the problem, which was limited to 64-bit editions of the Microsoft Corp. operating system. "Attempting to connect an iPhone or iPod touch, which has been updated with the latest iPhone 2.0 software, to iTunes 7.7 on a 64-bit Microsoft Vista platform may cause the system to unexpectedly quit and display a blue error message screen," the document read .

At the time, Apple recommended that users update to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).

This week's problem, however, was not limited to 64-bit Vista, according to the user reports.