The best systems allow for simple embedding. The top of the class – if you're lucky enough to be in the US or behind a proxy server – is Hulu. This serves up content via a simple Flash applet and its range of shows and clips can be added to any website. Unfortunately, the same can't be said of the majority of companies here, due to a reliance on the increasingly anachronistic Windows DRM.

The great leap forward

Similar plans to move things forward with an uber-iPlayer standard for all of the UK terrestrial networks – dubbed Project Kangaroo – recently hit the skids after the Competition Commission vetoed work on it due to complaints from the likes of Virgin Media and Sky. At the moment the project seems to be dead in the water, but it's not impossible that a third party will try the same sort of thing at some point in the future.

Other promising developments also exist. Cisco claims it's working hard with the movie studios to make premium video feeds available on all your web-enabled devices through its new media-friendly hardware and Eos net platform: a site-design tool that standardises online distribution. It's early days, but the list of studios who've signed up for it suggests that video producers are catching on to the fact that the only way they'll beat torrent sites is by making their content more convenient to access.

The sad truth, though, is that despite technology so perfectly suited to desktop and mobile phone web apps, it's the television manufacturers that are making the most progress with IPTV on demand. Nearly every major vendor now has a full range of sets available that can stream shows or movies direct from Internet sources such as CinemaNow and Netlix, using a browser that matches their standard on-screen displays.

PC users, for the time being, must instead be content with their supply of YouTube clips, a huge bookmarks folder or a plethora of bandwidth hungry applications for each potential source.

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First published in PC Plus Issue 280

Like this article? Then check out 7 cool things to expect from Sky by 2012

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