To your point:
"you have to use their software to load the thing..."
it ain't necessarily so (apologies to Gershwin).
For years I've used www.Winamp.com as my music manager--no iTunes!
*easy to use
*nowhere NEAR the resource hog that iTunes is
That’s still extra software. I prefer to just use explorer, copying the files as a I chose. Frankly WinAmps synch function kinda sucks, I don’t know if it’s better or worse than iTunes since I only have 3rd hand on iTunes, but I tried it and hated it (my MP3 can use synch but doesn’t have to). I still like WinAmp as a player, especially after adding Dynamic Library so I don’t have to put up with their horrible way of sorting my music, but as a synch tool no way.