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BBC "Not In Bed With Bill Gates" 335

Posted by kdawson
from the nobody-uses-linux-anyway dept.
whoever57 writes "The BBC's head of technology denied rumors that a secret deal with Microsoft was behind the XP-only launch of the BBC's iPlayer. According to Ashley Highfield, the reason that the player only supports Windows XP is that only a small number of Linux visitors have come to the BBC's website. Why he would expect a large number of Linux-based visitors to the site when the media downloads are Windows XP only is not clear. He also thinks that 'Launching a software service to every platform simultaneously would have been launch suicide,' despite the example of many major sites that support Linux (even if this is through the closed-source flash player)."
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BBC "Not In Bed With Bill Gates"

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  • Re:Lame reason. (Score:2, Informative)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:24AM (#21195449) Journal
    Hard to find a DRMed format to do that of course.

    <sarcasm>
    I mean, imagine... releasing content on the internet... Without DRM. It would be a catastrophy! It'd lead to chaos, anarchy, pigs flying, snowballs having a chance!
    </sarcasm>
  • by paintswithcolour (929954) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:30AM (#21195549)
    "Why he would expect a large number of Linux-based visitors to the site when the media downloads are Windows XP only is not clear."

    It should be clarified that he was talking about the root bbc.co.uk site NOT the iPlayer site, so it is clearer why the would expect Linux users to visit the site.

  • by Tim C (15259) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:31AM (#21195551)
    Because if they had, it would have been perfectly clear that by "the BBC website" he meant bbc.co.uk, as that's actually part of the referenced quote. Given that the site is one of the most popular in the UK, and is used by people from all walks of life, I'd say that their OS usage stats stand fair chance of being representative of reality...
  • by Bushcat (615449) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:31AM (#21195553)
    Why he would expect a large number of Linux-based visitors to the site when the media downloads are Windows XP only is not clear

    iPlayer is based on Kontiki (owned by Verisign). Windows only, unless you're prepared to jump through virtual hoops, AFAIK. Reading through the user agreement: it's targeting UK-based computer users. Hmmm. Shall we build a Windows, Mac or Linux player? No-brainer, really, when the P2P distribution layer is Windows only.

  • Re:1% of user base (Score:5, Informative)

    by xra (1021817) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:35AM (#21195621)

    Sad to say I have to agree with her. With the exception of Slashdots' visitors the majority of the computer users run Windows. That is why the company I write software for only develops browser applications for windows.
    You do not have to write separate browser applications, just one application that wouldn't be restricted to MS technologies. This way you would ensure that regardless of their numbers linux (and other non-windows) users would have access. No extra cost here.
  • by greebowarrior (961561) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:36AM (#21195635) Homepage
    When will people stop whining about iPlayer being XP only? There's no secret Microsoft alliance, and no great conspiracy.

    The main reason why iPlayer uses Windows DRM is because the companies who produce content for the BBC didn't want their shows streamed without some kind of rights management, because, god forbid, it should end up on bit torrent. The cause of this is most likely ignorance on their part, because, as we all know, DRM stops piracy, saves lives, cures cancar and ends world famine.

    The core code behind iPlayer is completely cross-browser, having worked on some of it, I know that it conforms to BBC New Media guidelines, which specifically state that all HTML, JavaScript, etc must be compatible with all major browsers (we even tested major elements of it in Firefox, and quite a few of the developers worked on Mac/Linux boxes)

    There has always been a plan for a Mac/Linux version of iPlayer, but the current DRM requirements being imposed on the iPlayer Core team make it somewhat difficult for them to actually get working on it
  • by heraclitus23 (1078159) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @09:53AM (#21195867)

    When will people stop whining about iPlayer being XP only? There's no secret Microsoft alliance, and no great conspiracy.


    When non-Windows players (Mac and Linux) don't have to pay a license fee and be excluded from services. Also, the worry is not about the Beeb management, but the iPlayer team many of whose senior figures are ex-Microsoft employees.

    The main reason why iPlayer uses Windows DRM is because the companies who produce content for the BBC didn't want their shows streamed without some kind of rights management, because, god forbid, it should end up on bit torrent. The cause of this is most likely ignorance on their part, because, as we all know, DRM stops piracy, saves lives, cures cancar and ends world famine.


    That a reason, if it is, to use DRM, not Microsoft DRM. Anyway, it's kind of silly---there are no digital rights management of broadcasts.

    There has always been a plan for a Mac/Linux version of iPlayer, but the current DRM requirements being imposed on the iPlayer Core team make it somewhat difficult for them to actually get working on it


    Well, sort of, there is plans for a streaming only version for Mac and Linux, but, again, that's unfair treatment to license payers.
  • Re:1% of user base (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:18AM (#21196205)
    The last time I spoke to anyone inside the BBC the backend servers for things like streaming audio (Real) were Linux. Not that it makes much different for your argument; with the volume of traffic that the BBC are encoding and streaming they're not relying on anything "free". They pay a lot of money to Real and a lot of money to Microsoft (They offer both Real & Windows Media streams) for the software to do it.

    If you're interested, at least once apon-a-time, they even had a few FreeBSD machines doing some encoding and streaming.

    I am just saying we do not have all the details and they probably had a good reason to not support Linux.

    We do have all the details: they didn't support Linux because they needed[1] to wrap everything in DRM, and they claim that Windows Media is the only solution that allows them to do that. The problem with that argument is, well, it's crap. Flash can do cross-platform DRM'd media, for a start. Even Quicktime would have been a better choice than Windows Media[2]. So what we really appear to have is someone who chose Microsoft without any real technical evaluation, no concern for the BBCs own charter nor any oversight from anyone who cared. Now the people responsible are back-peddling and trying to make excuses for their decisions.

    [1]: The requirement for blanket DRM is arguable, but not everything offered on iPlayer is wholly owned by the BBC so their hands are somewhat tied by the copyright holders.
    [2]: At least Quicktime is available on Windows and OS X. Are DRM'd Windows Media files playable under OS X? I admit I don't know; I guess it's possible now I think about it. Can a Mac user confirm?
  • Re:Lame reason. (Score:3, Informative)

    by toQDuj (806112) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:31AM (#21196375) Homepage Journal
    What about the .9 million people using macs then? 5% not enough?
  • Re:Lame reason. (Score:2, Informative)

    by evilandi (2800) <andrew@aoakley.com> on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:33AM (#21196401) Homepage
    worry about one thing...the bottom line.

    The BBC is a semi-independent government-funded agency, it does not have a "bottom line". It is a not-for-profit corporation.

    Any organisation that complains about US$7 BILLION government funding being too small, clearly has big problems.
  • by rx-sp (1161741) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @10:47AM (#21196615)
    This man is clearly a small-minded idiot who the BBC should be ashamed to have on their staff. Frankly, I don't care a jot about support for Linux or Mac. That's not where I'm coming at this from. I'm coming at this from the simple tenets of the BBC's constitution, that "Nation shall speak peace unto nation". This is on the plaque outside Broadcasting House, the BBC main HQ. It's why the BBC has offices in eastern countries you've never heard of. It's why the BBC broadcasts programs for minorities. It doesn't say "Nation shall speak peace unto nation provided they're running a compatible operating system". That's like it saying, "National shall speak peace unto nations provided they have white skin", or "Nation shall speak peace unto nation provided they support the British government's war on terror". There are no bars here, for any reason, trivial or otherwise. It really is disgraceful that this man is in a position of power in the BBC. It shows how far standards have slipped in the BBC. The iPlayer project will very probably be cancelled anyway because another fuckwitt is running the BBC and has massively overstretched the organisation, so that it's now cutting back by billions of pounds. Generation X has all growed-up and they're simply not up to the job.
  • Re:Lame reason. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Nasarius (593729) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @11:43AM (#21197567)
    Not so. The Flash media server can do streaming content without FLVs (see Fabchannel.com, for example). Streaming-only media in an obscure, proprietary format is about as secure as it gets.
  • Re:Silly sod (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:56PM (#21198721)
    Why is it unlikely that a niche operating system is used heavily in a niche company, and not everywhere else? Seems like you're getting statistics and probability confused.

    For what it's worth, at one time part of my duties included analyzing logs for a heavily accessed government financial portal. We had three, yes, the number 3, total visits using Linux in a year. I'm pretty sure they were all me from a test machine, although I only remember going there twice.

    Linux just isn't as popular as the people here want it to be. Instead of crowing how it must be a lie, try an figure out why, and change it.
  • by LordSnooty (853791) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @12:59PM (#21198763)
    Actually, these days a lot of BBC content is produced by independent companies and the BBC merely pays for the right to broadcast it. They are no more "the public's property" than any major US show.
  • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Thursday November 01, 2007 @01:16PM (#21199067) Journal

    Well then shouldn't Linux users be required to pay less tax so that it doesn't go to BBC?

    No, Linux users are choosing to use Linux. Using Linux comes with some cost to the individual using it. Don't like, don't use Linux. Don't sit there and whine that you are not getting what you want and expect everyone to bend over backwards for you. Don't act like you are 20000 times more important than you really are.

    Also I don't recall anywhere stating that the BBC was aiming to make a profit, I DO recall that they aim to help make their programmes accessible to as much people as possible.
    Funny, but 95% of the population seems like much of the people as reasonably possible.

    Currently they're ignoring 6% of people. and the fact that it'd take £1000+ to port to Linux might make sense, except that the majority of the code would only need small changes, and they should be able to fairly easily identify the parts that need to be redone easily if they followed good design.
    Then, you should, in the spirit of open source, volunteer to do the work for them.

    In any case, you are just whining because the 5% that make up Mac users and the .004 percent who make up the Linux users were not treated as important as the 16+ million Windows users who make up 94% of the market.

    You are a selfish brat. You want to be treated as special because of something you choose to do. If your choice should not effect what other people are required to do. Tell me, do you believe that because a few people choose to drink and drive that the rest of the population should be forced to stay off the road? Do you also believe that because a portion of the population chooses to smoke that smoking should be allowed everywhere including elementary schools, movie theaters, and hospitals?

    You are not special. You do not have any special rights. No one should have to be forced to do something simply because you choose to be different.

    Grow up and act like a responsible adult and live with the consequences of your decisions.

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