BBC iPlayer to no longer be Windows only

September 7, 2007 // 5:07 p.m.

Tags: #bbc #ie #internet #iplayer #on-demand #p2p #software #tv #windows #xp

Since it's release, the BBC's iPlayer has required Windows XP, Windows Media Player 10+ and Internet Explorer exclusively for the on demand TV. But after a lot of griping and moaning, it seems an online petition signed by over 16,000 UK residents (or 16,000 email addresses with a "UK postcode") has changed the outcome of its future.

The Government statement reads:

"The Government set up the BBC Trust to represent the interests of licence fee payers, and to ensure good governance of the BBC. The BBC Trust has responsibility for ensuring that the correct degree of scrutiny is given to all proposals from the BBC Executive for new services (such as the iPlayer) and any significant changes to existing services. To fulfill this duty, the Trust conducted a Public Value Test on the BBC Executive's proposals to launch new on-demand services, including BBC iPlayer. This included a public consultation and a market impact assessment by Ofcom. In the case of the iPlayer, following the consultation, the Trust noted the strong public demand for the service to be available on a variety of operating systems. The BBC Trust made it a condition of approval for the BBC's on-demand services that the iPlayer is available to users of a range of operating systems, and has given a commitment that it will ensure that the BBC meets this demand as soon as possible. They will measure the BBC's progress on this every six months and publish the findings."

In actual English: more operating system support is due to become available in the future, but don't expect it next week.

Of course, why people were lobbying the government about the BBC, which are two separate entities, we're not too sure. Maybe they've been listening to the Russians, which think the two are a single entity?

The whole thing stems from the fact that the iPlayer uses Windows Media Player to DRM-encrust its media, which is only available on Windows XP. Vista is apparently too new (and no one wants that anyway) and anything previous is too old. Firefox? With IETab it's no problem, but both Opera and Safari users have no native support and Linux users are left out in the cold since they are assumed to be l33t hack0rs and p1rates, no doubt.

No word on whether the core p2p nature of the software and its hidden gremlins will be fixed either, although we certainly hope so (to save future embarrassment on my part).

So there is light at the end of the tunnel and the iPlayer is still a nice concept for us Brits, but ultimately fails for 16,000 of us in practice. Do you use on demand TV services? Are they Windows only? Let us know in the forums.

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