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BBC iPlayer finally hits the streets

For better or worse

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The BBC will press ahead with its Windows-only on-demand service when it launches the iPlayer on July 27, the broadcaster announced today.

The end of the beta is sooner than the November launch suggested by the BBC's most recent hints. The development of iPlayer has been beset by controversy over strategy and delays and since it was first announced three years ago, however.

Recently, news broke on The Register that open-source advocates are planning to complain about the iPlayer's use of the Windows Media format to European competition watchdogs.

BBC Vision director Jana Bennett touched on the issue in today's announcement: "We are committed to making it as easy as possible to use BBC iPlayer. Developing a version for Apple Macs and Microsoft Vista is absolutely on our critical path."

The iPlayer allows Windows users to stream programmes for seven days after broadcast, or download them for viewing for up to 30 days. The corporation said today it is working on distribution deals with MSN, Telegraph.co.uk, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo!, Myspace, Bebo and Blinkx.

The service is based on VeriSign's Kontiki, the same white label P2P technology that Channel 4 uses for its on-demand services. The pair are in talks to unite the platforms. Viewing from outside the UK will be made tricky by IP mapping services the Beeb has deployed, also from VeriSign.

iPlayer is currently in beta here

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