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BBC, iPlayer and Microsoft

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From Grocklaw interview with Mark Taylor, president of the Open Source Consortium in the UK.

…it’s a Verisign Kontiki architecture, it’s peer-to-peer, and in fact one of the more worrying aspects is that you have no control over your node. It loads at boot time under Windows, the BBC can use as much of your bandwidth as they please (laughter), in fact I think OFCOM, you know, made some kind of estimate as to how many hundreds of millions of pounds that would cost everyone [Ed: see this video interview with Verisign Kontiki executive, and this one], there is a hidden directory called “My Deliveries” which pre-caches large preview files, it phones home to the Microsoft DRM servers of course, it logs all the iPlayer activity and errors with identifiers in an unencrypted file.

there’s a lot of pain going on in the user forums, and some of the main technical support questions in there are “how do I remove Kontiki from my computer?” See, it’s not just while iPlayer is running that Kontiki is going, it’s booted up. When the machine boots up, it runs in the background, and it’s eating people’s bandwidth all the time. (laughter) In the UK we still have massive amounts of people who’ve got bandwidth capping from their ISPs and we’ve got poor users on the online forums saying, “Well, my internet connection has just finished, my ISP tells me I’ve used up all of my bandwidth.”

No, they can’t throttle it. It really is. It’s malware as well as spyware.

Before you start wondering about BBC conspiracies, which would undoubtedly require the level of efficiency that the BBC Trust has been aiming for, let’s see who’s behind the iPlayer.

…the BBC management team who are responsible for the iPlayer are a checklist of senior employees from Microsoft who were involved with Windows Media. A gentleman called Erik Huggers who’s responsible for the iPlayer project in the BBC, his immediately previous job was director at Microsoft for Europe, Middle East & Africa responsible for Windows Media. He presided over the division of Windows Media when it was the subject of the European Commission’s antitrust case. He was the senior director responsible. He’s now shown up responsible for the iPlayer project.

This is getting worn out by now, Windows-only platform alone is asking for trouble, then there is the ET-phone-home behaviour of the iPlayer itself, then the caving-in of the BBC to the ‘rights holders requirements’ regarding DRM that read like a checklist of Microsoft DRM (I am shocked! shocked! at the DRM abuse going on here!) and finally the lack of clarity and rationale of the whole process. Oh, and fraternisation with a corporate monopolist to the tune of £130 million over the four years, paid by the taxpayer licence fee payer.

via Ben

Bonus link: Use MacOS? Linux? Solaris? Stop the BBC becoming Microsoft slaves!

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One Response to “BBC, iPlayer and Microsoft”


  1. qed’s blog » Blog Archive » MIcrosoft’s plan for World Domination
    on Nov 17th, 2007
    @ 22:25 pm

    [...] solution. They have already had some success with the BBC iPlayer despite plenty of well founded criticism, so I think its a fair bet that the borg might be on to something. Will “Our ABC” be [...]

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