BBC plans to limit their VoD service to Microsoft Windows

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bbc.gifIt has emerged that the BBC plans to make its forthcoming Video on Demand (VoD) service compatible only with Microsoft Windows.

An (arrogant) report from the BBC Trust states that such services will be unavailable to a ‘minority of consumers who neither use Microsoft software nor have an up-to-date version of the Windows operating system’. Whether this means that they have to have Vista (XP is hardly ‘up-to-date’ is it?) isn’t clear…

The UK’s Open Source Consortium has criticised these plans, and they most likely won’t be the only ones. They believe that if the BBC continue with this, then the licence fee will be spent promoting Microsoft over its competitors, which could be in breach of the BBC’s charter.

OSC Chief Executive, Iain Roberts said: “Our members are competing hard in a fast-moving market and winning new customers every day. Seeing their licence fees going to advertise one of their largest competitors is not acceptable, especially from the BBC which has a duty to be unbiased. We want the BBC to reject any moves that restrict consumer choice.”

So, users of Linux, Mac OS X, and indeed any other flavour of non-Microsoft operating system are deemed a minority not worth bothering with? Maybe it has something to do with the BBC’s partnership with Microsoft? Mac users are already painfully aware of the poor lack of support when trying to view video clips from the BBC – now anyone not on Bill’s side looks set to be shut out.

Is this a conspiracy from British broadcasters? Channel 4 have already opted for a PC-only approach for their 4oD service.

The sad thing is that it can’t be that difficult (for an organisation with the technical knowledge of the BBC) to run a more open service, or make it available in several formats so that the user can choose how to access it.

Not impressed, Auntie. Not impressed.

Andy Merrett

One thought on “BBC plans to limit their VoD service to Microsoft Windows

  • Is this rght? On 31st January 2007 the MediaGuardian and Informitv websites report that the Trust has asked BBC management to ensure that the iPlayer services work on other computer operating systems, not just with Microsoft applications…

    The Trust will also draw up a policy for syndicating BBC on-demand content to other internet operators such as Google.

    The Trust will require the BBC executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe and said: “This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services.”

    The BBC has indicated plans to develop a Real Player alternative in the near future.

    The Trust said that it understood the BBC aspires to offer an alternative digital rights management framework in the future but has yet to identify a satisfactory solution. “In either case,” said the Trust, “we will expect this to have been addressed within 24 months.”

    The BBC’s original iPlayer proposal would have just made the on-demand TV service available to computer users with Windows XP and Windows Media Player 10.

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