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BBC "Not In Bed With Bill Gates"

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the nobody-uses-linux-anyway dept.

Media 335

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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Lame reason. (3, Insightful)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195383)

Why is 'a small number of linux users' a reason for going with this? What is wrong with using a format that is available everywhere (including portable players!) as a matter of course?

Re:Lame reason. (5, Funny)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195443)

Never mind. The title creates an image that I'm not going to be able to get out of my head anytime soon.

Re:Lame reason. (2, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195449)

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>

Re:Lame reason. (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195477)

Why is 'a small number of linux users' a reason for going with this? What is wrong with using a format that is available everywhere (including portable players!) as a matter of course?

Because Bill came by with a wad of cash. Like Steve says, the market has spoken.

The man is clearly a liar.

Re:Lame reason. (0, Flamebait)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195577)

I think you are forgetting that you have to look at file formating cost: How long it takes to convert the file to that format because time is money and if you do not break the story because you are converting a file you just lost money.
How much band with does it cost to send the other format?
How hard is it for a NORMAL user to find a media player that supports the other format?
Does a user have to pay for the player that supports that format?

It all comes down to getting users to your site and making sure the user has no problems browsing your site. Using a windows format answers and eliminates most of those questions. You may not like this because you are a Linux user, I am a Linux user also but you have to look at it from a business perspective. They are managers not geeks. They worry about one thing...the bottom line.

Re:Lame reason. (4, Insightful)

philicorda (544449) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195835)

You have this in reverse.
Making the videos only work in Windows specific media players is more effort than using a common freely available codec.

At an extreme, having a single page with links to the videos in mpeg format would have taken one person a day to set up.

They may have their reasons, but technically the simplest solution is often... the simplest one.

Re:Lame reason. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195861)

How long it takes to convert the file to that format? You think the native format for BBC broadcasts is WMP?

How much band with does it cost to send the other format? Honestly - it probably doesn't matter - and there's no reason to assume WMP or whatever this is is more efficient than whatever else could be used.

How hard is it for a user to find a media player that supports the other format? ...they're requiring users download a new app already...

Dang. I can't do this. I mean, I wanted to feed the troll... I really did. But this is just too much stupid.

Development costs (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195659)

Face it, there are tools out there that make it insanely easy to provide content to the majority of users.

Most likely they went with what some consultant said, to get up and running as quickly as possible with the minimum in costs.

Now, what would it take to come up with something in Linux that can read this data? Is it even remotely possible?

Re:Lame reason. (4, Interesting)

twicepending (936496) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195687)

From the Article "We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users"

Now I imagine that relates to visitors to the rather useless BBC front page, using the same info as used to compile the blog post at http://www.currybet.net/articles/user_agents/2.php> which claims that only 0.41& of BBC visitors use Linux.

I'm a regular visitor to various bits of the BBC web site and I regularly come across other Linux users and just about the one thing we have in common is that we very rarely visit the front page - like most experienced computer users we go straight to sub-site we want.

Re:Lame reason. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195925)

Yeah, I didn't realise I was in such an elite club of people! I'd be interested to know how these figures where calculated and which sites & sub-domains it covers. Do the Real Server logs support this figure, for example? I know I regularly listen to Radio1 from Ubuntu. The technical help pages for Real Player even has a specific section with upto-date Linux instructions: did they really spend the time writing this for just 600 of us?

why a player? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195803)

This is 2007, they don't need a "player", that's already out there in a huge fashion, all they needed was to pick an open format, then let folks use whichever player they want. This was an artificial decision based on a "problem" that doesn't exist and that didn't need to happen.

Silly sod (1)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195393)

Claims that there's only 4-600 Linux users accessing the BBC web site! I think he needs to come clean with the web stats.

Re:Silly sod (1)

aweiland (237773) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195573)

Why is that so hard to believe? It must be a conspiracy.

Definitely a screwup somewhere (2, Insightful)

26199 (577806) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195413)

400-600 people on Linux use bbc.co.uk (in the UK)? I don't think so...

Someone needs to recheck their server logs.

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (2, Interesting)

johnw (3725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195633)

400-600 people on Linux use bbc.co.uk
It's clearly either a made up figure or a case of very creative use of statistics. He would have been better off with a figure like 50,000 - it's surprisingly small but it's not so easy to prove that it's just plain wrong.

It would be interesting to do a survey of Linux users to see how many regularly use bbc.co.uk. I suspect the figure would be well up in the hundreds of thousands. 400-600 is just beyond belief.

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195669)

400-600 people visited the beeb website and found it only supported XP/IE/Firefox.
They subsequently began spoofing their User agent reply.

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (1)

Vanders (110092) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195961)

That'd be nice if it were true, but the BBC web sites are almost all excellent in any browser you'd care to mention. Even the news ticker on the news.bbc.co.uk front page works in ABrowse on Syllable (Webcore based). I think you'd have to try pretty hard to find something that is IE only through design on the BBC web sites.

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (2, Funny)

JamesD_UK (721413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195697)

I read all my BBC stories on Slashdot you insensitive clod. Since I never RTFA, I never visit bbc.co.uk. QED

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195729)

The BBC news site alone gets something in the region of 40 million hits *a day*. I'd expect them to get 400-600 visitors running something like OpenVMS or AIX - even if you take Linux as 1% of desktops you're still looking at 400,000 hits, so unless every user generates 1,000 hits a day they're a bit off.

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (1)

teab v1.0 (764549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195741)

Of course, if they were just looking at the logs for www.bbc.co.uk, then maybe it's true. I rarely visit that page, as I normally jump straight to news.bbc.co.uk. This would also mean that anyone arriving from (say) Slashdot would never visit that page, as there would be a direct link to the article.

However that would worry me if that was all they were looking at.

I know of myself & one other at work who browse the BBC site (from home) using Linux, and I've spotted a couple more people commenting on here. So there must only be another 590-odd Linux users in the UK. I feel honoured to be part of such a select group...

Re:Definitely a screwup somewhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195929)

I'm pretty sure they mean 400,000-600,000

why not... (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195417)

use a file format that can be used by all Operating Systems, and use a single file format and not a mix of flash & and some other that need to work together in some obscure way, keep it simple & open...

Re:why not... (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195531)

Because they have to use something which can't easily be copied.

Re:why not... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195781)

Yes. They prefer that it be difficultly copied.

Re:why not... (0)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195849)

Really? Will the universe implode if they don't?

Miscounting (2, Interesting)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195421)

I can't believe that. I am a licence payer and visit the BBC website everyday on Linux. I'm sure their proprietary webstats package is just ignoring Linux. He didn't give the number of 'others'.

Re:Miscounting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195847)

"I can't believe that. I am a licence payer and visit the BBC website everyday on Linux."

Well, that settles it then - I was worried that you were being missed from the count. You really blew their statistics out of the water there with your detailed analysis of the BBC website user demographics. Now, they're going to have to do something.

A bit incorrect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195431)

If you consider that the default installation of Firefox contains a live feed ("Latest Headlines") that feeds from the BBC, you'd be surprised at how many Linux users visit the BBC.

BBC's charter (5, Interesting)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195455)

The interesting bit here is the Beeb isn't really a commercial organization. They're a public entity which is strictly required [wikipedia.org] to keep itself free of commercial and political influence.

Re:BBC's charter (0, Troll)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195487)

A news organization free of political influence...?

What are they going to legislate next? Not-wet water?

Re:BBC's charter (5, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195927)

The interesting bit here is the Beeb isn't really a commercial organization. They're a public entity which is strictly required [wikipedia.org] to keep itself free of commercial and political influence.

They're also required to account for their spending and for keeping costs down. If they proposed a completely open player and it was a significant amount of money more than the Microsoft one then they would have to justify why they went with the costly option.

Granted I've not worked in a non-profit organisation, but even so, I think that justifying a larger spend on something that affects less than 0.004% of visitors is going to be a very tough sell for anyone.

BBC (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195459)

The British Biassed Communists are all aging boomers and mostly don't get computers. If they did, they'd be kissing Stallman's ass, like all the other neo-liberal champagne socialists.

Perfect example (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195473)

So management knows more about tech than the techs do?

Launching with a java or flash player would have been suicide?

Is the man a complete and utter idiot?

What can be done to force him getting fored for being incompetent so we can try and find someone that is not stupid?

These are questions that all of us want answered.

1% of user base (0)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195475)

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.
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. Why spend $50k (assuming you have 2 software developers and it takes them 6 months to finish and test the application so they both used up $25k of the companies money) developing an application when only 1% of your user base is going to use the application. I know they could have put the videos into a different format but it all comes down to cost. With cost you have to factor in time. How long does it take to convert those videos to a different format, how much bigger is the file format (costing more bandwidth) etc. No matter how much you guys like Linux and hate Windows (or like Windows whatever) on the business side of things it comes down to money and getting a return on your investment. With Linux you do not immediately see a return on your investment.

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

xra (1021817) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:1% of user base (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195681)

You forget to factor in they are probably on legacy code that was built back in 1998 or so that runs on windows and was designed to work with IE etc. Also if their servers were windows servers and they were using the windows streaming video software it would require a rewrite to get it to work in something other then IE or something other then windows because that is all their servers support. We do not have all the details but I bet it came down to cost.

Re:1% of user base (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195655)

"No matter how much you guys like Linux and hate Windows (or like Windows whatever) on the business side of things it comes down to money and getting a return on your investment. With Linux you do not immediately see a return on your investment."

And that's why Google is over $700 a share now? Because Linux and Linux-support don't provide return on investment?

How did this ever get modded up?

Re:1% of user base (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195679)

Just so you know Ashley Highfield is a bloke.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashley_Highfield [wikipedia.org]

Re:1% of user base (1)

greebowarrior (961561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195703)

Erm, Ashley Highfield is a guy...

Re:1% of user base (1)

AusIV (950840) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195711)

Why spend $50k (assuming you have 2 software developers and it takes them 6 months to finish and test the application so they both used up $25k of the companies money) developing an application when only 1% of your user base is going to use the application.

For something where the wheel has to be re-invented that's true, but this is a video site. There are dozens of examples of cross platform sites that do video, and there are several tools that are readily available to make it happen easy. Unless you're doing something decidedly non-standard, you should be able to write a website target at Windows and have Linux more or less fall into place.

Re:1% of user base (1)

BlowHole666 (1152399) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195773)

Do you know what their back end looks like? Is it a Microsoft server, or a Linux server? With windows you can get software for free that does streaming video. How hard is it for an admin to install a version that supports video for Linux. I am just saying we do not have all the details and they probably had a good reason to not support Linux. Just like a year back my friend was creating a flash site and he was on flash 8 and he wanted me to test it in Linux and it would not work (Linux only had flash 7 at the time) so he kept using flash 8 because it was the latest and greatest and had the features he wanted. He did not support Linux because very few of his users ran Linux. Why should he change to flash 7 or wait till flash 9 just to support 1% of his user base? It is throwing money out the window.

Re:1% of user base (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195879)

With windows you can get software for free that does streaming video. How hard is it for an admin to install a version that supports video for Linux.

3/10. Poor attempt at troll, lack of factual information, slow shipping. Won't troll again.

Pretending that windows streaming is something special that can't be handled by xine or mplayer isn't making your argument. It's only when you throw encryption on top of it that things get hairy.

Why should he change to flash 7 or wait till flash 9 just to support 1% of his user base? It is throwing money out the window.

Did he need whatever magical sparklies were introduced in flash 8? If not, the money left the window when he bought 8.

Re:1% of user base (1)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195931)

There are countless situations where looking for immediate return is not the right thing to do.
Going multiplatform and implementing standards means coding for the 100% of the prospective clients instead of the 90% or less owned by microsoft, and it's not 2x the cost of a windows only solution. I'd say the windows only solution will end up costing more just to keep up with whatever MS execs think about their new versions of the framework and the OS.

Chicken and egg (2, Insightful)

darjen (879890) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195481)

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.
My guess is that they checked their logs before they created the application, and decided that the small portion of linux users on their site didn't justify the extra development costs of multi platform support. Of course, I didn't RTFA so I could be wrong on that.

Re:Chicken and egg (1)

Taagehornet (984739) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195881)

From TFA:

And as for the battle with the Open Source Consortium? "The 12 people who demonstrated outside our offices have every right to demonstrate," says Ashfield. "But I think 'the 12 people' says it all."

Highfield used the numbers of non-Windows users visiting bbc.co.uk as justification for the corporation's XP-only release. "We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users."

Of course it was (0)

Skiron (735617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195499)

It is so obvious that the BBC are in cahoots with MS over this, I can't see how the bloke can say they are not - so he is obviously a blatant liar.

I am seriously considering some sort of action (legal or otherwise) as I have to pay for a BCC TV licence, yet get deliberately locked out of the BBC player (by the BBC's CHOICE) as I do not use MS products.

Re:Of course it was (1)

Larry Lightbulb (781175) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195607)

Having a license entitles you to own a TV, there's nothing about being entitled to watch video over the Internet - if you're using theiPlayer there's no way it can check your license.

Re:Of course it was (2, Insightful)

Skiron (735617) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195797)

Bollocks... the licence money I pay FUNDS the BBC, which they are using to pay MS to produce a locked-in player that deliberately stops my using it as I do not use MS products.

This sounds like racketeering, to me.

In other news (1, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195811)

In other news, FOX News Channel has announced that it's not in bed with the Republican Party, George W. Bush announced that he's not in bed with big oil, and every member of the U.S. Congress has announced that they aren't in bed with any lobbyists or special interest groups of any kind.

Finally, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that she's never been in bed with anybody but herself. (That one's almost believable!)

Re:Of course it was (5, Interesting)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195813)

If MS and the BBC were in cahoots, don't you think there would be a Vista version? Microsoft doesn't want you buying XP any more.

A wise designer once told me... (5, Insightful)

JetScootr (319545) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195511)

"You don't decide how big to build the bridge by counting the number of people swimming the river."
Cuz once the bridge is up, hundreds more who couldn't swim the distance will want to cross.

Not in bed with. (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195513)

...under the desk, maybe.

Re:Not in bed with. (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195535)

...under the desk, maybe.

Yeah, but who's on the receiving end?

Re:Not in bed with. (1)

JK_the_Slacker (1175625) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195653)

Dear sir, your fetishes interest me. Please subscribe me to your newsletter.

Re:Not in bed with. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195911)

Ballmer looking angry with chairs...

Stats not about iPlayer (4, Informative)

paintswithcolour (929954) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Stats not about iPlayer (3, Insightful)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195941)

He is throwing numbers out doesn't know what the hell he is talking about. Linux visitors to the BBC site has to be a hell of a lot higher than that. 400 to 600 hundred linux users? I got more than that when I was was working for a local Virginia newspaper! We had over 100,000 visits per day, linux users were running steady at about 2%. The problem with linux users was you never knew which browser they were going to use, opera, firefox, konqueror even EI running under wine.

Did even the submitter read the article? (4, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 6 years ago | (#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...

Based on Kontiki so no Linux version (3, Informative)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Based on Kontiki so no Linux version (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195951)

Shall we build a Windows, Mac or Linux player? No-brainer, really, when the P2P distribution layer is Windows only.
Sure... but isn't that backwards?

Generally you shouldn't pick your technology (programming language, toolkit, etc.) and then pick your audience based on what it supports. Instead, you should write out a list of requirements, and then pick the technology that satisfies all those needs. In this case, if one of the requirements was: "Must be available to all fee-paying persons with computer access (i.e.: must be platform agnostic)" then an OS-specific technology would never have been chosen in the first place.

I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, and assume that this is a result of mis-management (e.g. not thinking very hard about requirements) rather than corruption (e.g. collusion with software companies), but in any case I question their planning process.

(And to those who may respond that "must support DRM" was one of the requirements in the initial design, and could only be satisfied using Windows-only software, I would then say that placing content protection above equal treatment of fee-paying users was, again, a poor design decision for an organization like the BBC.)

600 linux users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195559)

> 400 to 600 are Linux users.

2008 will be the year of linux on the desktop:P

Seriously, I read BBC news from work on my windows box but I'm not listening to or watching media streams in the office and I only use linux at home. I'm not sure the stats are significant in the way this guy thinks they are, I pay a license fee but know for a fact that my employer does not.

Small numbers from Linux (1)

ddrichardson (869910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195581)

That's peculiar, given that Firefox is the default browser in most all Linux distributions and a default install includes a BBC News RSS feed I find those figures very, very strange.

Why not design for open in the first place? (5, Insightful)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195593)

The Beeb did it because it was the cheapest, easiest, but not best, option.

That said, it was a really stupid move and managed to get everybody from the smallest Linux hacker to the UK government commenting in public about the policy.

Creating an open "player" for all platforms would have taken more resources at first, but from that point on all future platforms would be supported by the people who use the platform.

Sadly, the Beeb needs closed source to implement the no-save and timed delete features forced on them by others.

Re:Why not design for open in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195825)

I think he is lying.

From TFA: "We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users."

I don't understand that. News.bbc.co.uk is frequently linked from the Slashdot front page, and although not every Slashdot visitor is running Linux or based in the UK, I'd expect a much higher number than that on the basis of Slashdot visits alone.

There are more than 600 Linux users in the UK. And some of us even give a shit about what the BBC spends our money on. But I guess minorities don't matter to publically funded broadcasters. Nice one, BBC.

Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195605)

Maybe 600 was the amount of people who logged onto the site using IE6 through wine? :p

But I repeat, they are definitely NOT in bed with Bill Gates...

Love the summary (4, Insightful)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195609)

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.
Hey Fudmitter, he's not talking about the media site, he's talking about news.bbc.co.uk. Still that seems a little low. We should have upped those numbers for him and linked his site directly in the summary...

Not in bed together, but they LOVE the same SPA! (1)

CorporalKlinger (871715) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195619)

From what I know of the BBC, they've always prided themselves on "spreading the word" of the BBC as far and wide as possible, setting up broadcast stations in some of the most remote parts of the world to share their news, informational programming, and perhaps most importantly - the English language - with those who often have very limited resources. I can tell from personal experience - I am able to receive the BBC from midnight to 4 AM on my local public radio station here in Indiana on a nightly basis... I was able to receive the BBC loud and clear when I was on a relief trip to Honduras (though I think the programming was moderately different from that received here in Indiana) - and one of my peers reported being able to receive the BBC when he was in a remote part of Africa on a hunting expedition. For a company that claims to want to make their information accessible to everyone, I find their explanation for a Windows-only launch of their player less than satisfying.

I don't think that MS and the BBC are necessarily in bed together. The problem likely stems from hiring programmers that aren't familiar with porting software to the Linux platform. I know that the BBC is well-funded, but I have serious doubts about the influence this project's leader within the BBC has over the "uppers" who write his budget and provide his human resources. With limited resources, the idea might be to "cast the net as wide as possible." Sure, porting the player to be Linux-compatible *should* be really easy, but I can say from experience that porting multimedia software that incorporates a significant amount of network interface software to access the feeds from the internet from Windows to Linux often requires something of a "special touch" - something I, unfortunately, do not have. Those programmers they hired built the software they did, perhaps, as a "test." CNN and the NY Times have both launched major media projects that later failed - this might be the BBC testing the waters to see what demand is. Still, their excuse could be a little more realistic and honest.

oh god, not this again... (5, Informative)

greebowarrior (961561) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195635)

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

Re:oh god, not this again... (2, Informative)

heraclitus23 (1078159) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

good riddance (-1, Flamebait)

dwave (701156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195643)

I am glad to hear that less users have the chance to be exposed to the Biased-Brainfucked-Company's inaccurate reporting. I cannot wait for the day that they go offline completely.

Re:good riddance (1)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195759)

I cannot wait for the day that they go offline completely.

Errr. Surely that day arrived when your TV set came with buttons to select other channels? Just don't watch it. I can't imagine what you would prefer to watch given the quality of the competition, but nobody's forcing you.

TWW

Well... (1)

thepartyanimal (1149043) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195671)

when the linux users get a real OS like Windows it wont be a problem.

what's the big deal... (1)

fattmatt (1042156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195683)

Why is it so hard to believe there is only a small Linux desktop community that use it regularly? This seems to be a characteristic of every sub-culture, an internal self awareness that does not extend past the members of the sub-culture and the general misunderstanding the 100s of millions of Windows users actually recognize there is a small and insignificant amount of Linux desktop users.

did that make sense? haha...

Nope (1)

KiwiCanuck (1075767) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195685)

They're just lying ion the sheets and holding hands.

Assumed error in parent story... (1)

Aphrika (756248) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195707)

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.
Actually, it is clearly mentioned in the article. The numbers represent users of the BBC website, not the iPlayer site.

Re:Assumed error in parent story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195983)

Still a bizarrely small number. Only 600 Linux users in the UK visit the BBC website? I don't believe that. Show us the stats!

This reminds me of New Labour's way of justifying every policy that they come up with. "99% of respondents to our survey were in favour of something that sounded a bit like our policy, when we phrased it carefully!"

It is clear (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195723)

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's not talking about media downloads, but the entire bbc.co.uk site which, according to Google, is about 3,310,000 pages.

From the article:

Highfield used the numbers of non-Windows users visiting bbc.co.uk as justification for the corporation's XP-only release. "We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users."

They didn't do a Linux version because only 0.0035% of users are identifying themselves as running Linux.

I'm not making any comments about whether or not this is a good idea. I'm sure others can provide good arguments for both ways.

Open Source Alternative? (1)

s7uar7 (746699) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195725)

Given that the BBC had to wrap the iPlayer videos in DRM to satisfy the rights holders, what open source equivalent could they have used? Or would they have had to write something completely from the ground up?

Summary Inflamatory as usual (1)

gaspyy (514539) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195731)

Obviously, after 6 years of /., I'd expect no less...

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


Highfield's (the chief of tech) argument is pretty solid actually. The BBC site (bbc.co.uk, not the media download area) has 17 million monthly visitors, out of which 600 use Linux.

It does make perfect sense to please the 99% of the users first and then cater to the specific needs of the other 1%.

[...] despite the example of many major sites that support Linux (even if this is through the closed-source flash player)


Gotta love the spin. They were offering media downloads, not just streaming, so it's apple to oranges. I may not agree with the DRM, but then again it's their right to make the content available only to those who pay the tax.

Finally, so self-respecting zealot could fail to note that flash is closed-source. Obviously, if BBC would have chosen flash from the beginning, slashdotters would be now outraged for BBC ignoring Ogg...

And what's this doing in "Your Rights Online" section?

Re:Summary Inflamatory as usual (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195783)

I would have to agree, noone seems to be mentioning this for some strage reason, but iPlayer does NOT support Windows Vista and Internet Explorer 7. :)

Does this affect all media on all BBC sites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195743)

I used to listen to Radio 1 with Realplayer. This mean the next time I hit it up on my Mac I'm not going to be able to listen? =/

Submitter is either confused or an out right liar. (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195761)

The BBC spokesman said that BEFORE they instituted the iPlayer software, they had very few visitors using Linux. The submitter then tries to refute this statement by using the current state as to why there would have been fewer visitors in the past.

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.

This is disingenuous and does not refute the fact that 94% of the visitors to the BBC site were using Windows before the iPlayer rollout.

Either the submitter can not read, can not think, or is a trolling fanboy. In any instance, the submission is inaccurate.

It's a licese thing (1)

IchBinEinPenguin (589252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195793)

The BBC don't own, and therefore can't (be seen to) give away, the content.
They have to at least pretend to make it difficult to 'hack' the player and capture the content.
If they release a Windows player and it gets hacked, no-one cares (yet another Windows hack, film at 11).
If they release a Linux player and it gets hacked they'll be roasted for loosing the content (how dumb are you? releasing a player on a platform where users can recompile the kernel to defeat your DRM?!?!).

it just might be true (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195795)

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.

The BBC is more than media downloads. It is the prime news site in the U.K. If the BBC isn't seeing many Linux users, it could be because there aren't many Linux users.

Wal-Mart made the same claim (1)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195799)

Until it came out they had hired a former MS exec.

I think it was funny that they pooh-poohed a demonstration by a dozen people. Any number of people come out to protest a technology choice should be an eye-opener. One of the first things I learned working for public radio was that you didn't piss off opera fans. There weren't very many of them, but they were vocal and passionate. Much like Linux users. The Beeb should have more class.

It still surprises me to find IE only web sites from big companies, but they're still out there. It's so rude and comes across as primitive and...last week.

The more amusing of two evils (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195817)

Executive summary: "Management ineptitude with statistics, not conspiracy, behind stupid BBC move."

I Hate Rock n Roll (1)

smack.addict (116174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195823)

I love the BBC
I love it when they're pissin' on me
And I love MTV
I love it when they're shittin' on me

Oh, come on... (1)

sribe (304414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195831)

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.

I'm pretty sure they had a web site before they put up these media downloads, and I suspect that they probably looked at those stats before deciding that their visitors are mostly running Windows.

400 to 600 Linux users? (2, Interesting)

Tibixe (1138927) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195833)

We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users.
I read news.bbc.co.uk and use Linux. so I am the 0.2% of the users mentioned there :P
There must more than 600, because a "Latest BBC Headlines" bookmark comes "preinstalled" with Firefox.
(At least with the ones I've seen)

Re:400 to 600 Linux users? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21195915)

My 0.2%, I've no idea how they analyzed their stats but the quoted figures are simply not believable.

What's more, I've been reading BBC news on linux since it launched in the late '90s. Well before most of my non-tech friends and relatives even owned a computer.

Why not just use an open codec? (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195845)

Why not just stick the files up in MPEG4 or some other open codec (or even the DIRAC codec which the BBC has/had some connection to)?

Stick it behind a login page (with only people who have TV licenses able to get access).

Bill Gates (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195865)

I'm sure Bill Gates will be happy to hear this news. Someone call him up.

Clearly Not the Man for the Job (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195877)

An Operating system, (O/S), is not the requirement to download a file that is in a certain format. All current Linux, MacIntosh, Unix, and Microsoft O/S's have the ability to Download a file. These current O/S's can all execute "Multimedia" programs. Certain programs can only execute on a limited set of O/S's; But, there are Multimedia programs that can work on ALL of the above stated O/S's, and many other O/S's not stated. Clearly, access to only a few people, was the intent of the final decision maker in this case.

2 out of 3 ain't bad... (1)

Kugrian (886993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195885)

The BBC iPlayer Accessibility Statement [bbc.co.uk] makes for some interesting reading.

The BBC is committed to making its output as accessible as possible to all audiences (including those with visual, hearing, cognitive or motor impairments) to fulfil its public service remit and to meet its statutory obligations.


I live in England, pay the License Fee, and run Ubuntu. I guess only two out of three prevents me from being part of their audience.

What a moron (1, Insightful)

mikeb (6025) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195897)

The really *scary* thing about this is that the BBC's HEAD OF TECHNOLOGY is still trotting out the bullshit line that this is about Linux users. It is not and never was. It's about a body that is publicly funded from MY F****NG TAXES, with a statutory duty to serve the whole UK population, choosing to use proprietary and encumbered technology. If he's too stupid to understand that he should resign.

It is not about Linux. It is not about Linux. It is not about Linux.

It's about ensuring that there is a free, open and competitive market in producing players. What annoys me is not that there is no Linux player, but that NOBODY CAN CREATE ONE from the specifications (since there aren't any).

With idiots like this in charge at the Beeb, there's no hope.

Beta Sign Up (1)

bugg_tb (581786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195905)

Well I don't really believe these figures. When they were asking for beta testers the asked you for various details and what OS you used I of course tapped in linux and was told that I didn't fall within the criteria. I'd like to see how many people were logged as linux users from the sign up, I think that would give a good indication of what the BBC were thinking during the development stage.

Hello? Mac sales outranking pc in universities? (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195955)

recent surveys and sales data shows mac sales are now out numbering pc sales in major universities state side, given Europe's more progressive leanings it's pretty easy to extrapolate similar if not greater trends across the pond, not to mention bbc does have an American division.

and guess what, mac runs a posix interface. It's not that hard to make the mac version linux friendly.

In other words, this is a cop-out at best, and more likely his claims are an outright lie.

However, never attribute to malice or conscious intent what can be attributed to laziness or incompetence. The ms development platform, especially graphics development, is geared toward the lazy (think directx vs opengl in the gaming world)

I suggest he goes to youtube (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#21195989)

After years of looking at Linux, wanting to use Linux, and feeling Linux just wasn't ready (all the while hating myself for using Windows, feeling like a beaten wife), I've discovered the Glory That Is Ubuntu. My God, that is some brilliant shit. I did a demo install in VMware just to see how good the latest version is. Can I say wow? Yes, yes I can. What's more, flash under firefox looks great. I can run youtube vids with full motion and sound, no lag, and it's great.

The point to this long story, why aren't they going with the flash player? I mean shit, it works so effortlessly. Very little buffering, no worries about needing to find funky codecs, etc, web video feels far more advanced than just a few years ago. Then again, BBC was running realplayer for the longest time so even a poke in the eye with a sharp stick would be an improvement, xp by comparison must seem a revelation.
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