Apple today released iTunes 11, the latest version of its digital media jukebox. And while I’ve been critical of this application in the past—for perfectly valid reasons—it is today the only viable media player that runs on Windows and is regularly updated. And go figure, but the new version looks pretty good.

In fact, if you’re familiar with Apple’s redesigned iTunes apps for the iPad—Music, Videos, and iTunes (Store)—the Windows application will look pretty familiar. It sports a similar super-simple user interface with all the complexity hidden.

It also integrates more tightly with iCloud. In the past, you could visit the iTunes Store to find non-music content that you’d previously purchases, but now it’s all comingled together in each view. So the Movies view includes both my previous iTunes Store purchases, available from iCloud, and my locally-stored movies.

The iTunes Store view is now almost identical to that on the iPad, and much more attractive as well.

I’ll need to spend more time with the application to see whether performance and reliability have improved. But now that device sync is no longer required, iTunes on the PC is just like iTunes on a device, a place where you can access your content. Apple doesn’t provide streaming services (yet?) so that’s a minus. But I can easily push updates to my iTunes music collection—including playlists—to Amazon Cloud Player anytime, which isn’t a horrible way to do things.

I know, I know. Many of you hate iTunes. This one looks pretty good.

You can download iTunes 11 from the Apple web site.