BBC 'not in bed with Bill Gates' over iPlayer

The iPlayer has met with mostly positive reviews, despite its Windows XP-only stance for now

The BBC's head of technology has hit out at suggestions that it is forming an alliance with Microsoft. Its iPlayer TV catch-up software is currently only available for Windows XP PCs.

Following up a recent interview with our sister magazine .net the BBC's Ashley Highfield carried on the charm offensive, telling ZDNet criticism of the iPlayer project wasn't justified.

"It would be understandable if we'd only ever intended to launch an XP-only iPlayer, but that was never the plan." He had previously told .net magazine that the corporation had to launch to the biggest audience first.

"Launching a software service to every platform simultaneously would have been launch suicide. We always take the approach of launching to the platform with the highest number of users."

He cited the mass market appeal of DAB as another example of how it brought its radio services into the digital age rather than also launching them on digital TV and the internet at the same time.

No Microsoft alliance

In the .net interview, Ashfield denies any alliance with Microsoft. "There is no conspiracy theory, believe me. In no way are we in bed with Bill Gates. We're totally committed to universality, to getting the service out to everyone, and to platform neutrality," he told the magazine.

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 as justification for the corporation's XP-only release. "We have 17.1 million users of 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."

The BBC is to release a streaming version of the iPlayer for those users by Christmas, helped by Adobe. Highfield believes that a download version will be available during 2008.

Highfield also told ZDNet he loves a particular piece of new kit. "I think the iPod touch is a beautiful piece of design. If everything could have that intuitiveness of use... and certainly, in terms of the BBC iPlayer, I aspire to it being that easy to use," he told the site.

Issue 169 of .net magazine is on sale now.


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.