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Channel 4 fails to open archives to Mac, Linux fans

4oD stays locked behind Windows

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Broadcaster Channel 4 has admitted the archive section of its web-based service will remain unavailable to Mac and Linux users.

The terrestrial TV company’s popular 4oD service, which offers viewers thousands of hours of archive TV shows and films to stream, download or rent, remains a Windows XP and Vista-only domain, C4 told The Register.

Mac and Linux users, as well as Firefox fans, will continue to be frozen out of the service.

The only web browser currently supported by 4oD, which runs in Windows Media Player 10 or above, is Microsoft's Internet Explorer versions 5.5, 6 and 7.

“It was always our intention to offer a Mac compatible VOD service as part of the planned launch of Kangaroo,” said a C4 spokeswoman.

“However, following the decision by the Competition Commission to prohibit [Project] Kangaroo we are now looking at ways to further enhance our existing on-demand offering.”

Project Kanagaroo was a joint video on demand (VOD) venture between BBC Worldwide, ITV and C4. Competition regulators kyboshed plans in early February saying such a combined force would have too much market power in the UK telly biz.

The spokeswoman insisted it wasn’t all bad news for non-Windows users, however, by pointing out that Mac and Linux fans would soon be able to view C4 television shows via its Catch Up service. It's set to launch soon on Adobe’s Flash technology that works across Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

At the moment C4 viewers can only catch up on the past 30 days of the broadcaster's output via a Windows-based PC using Microsoft's Media Player video format.

C4 declined to comment on when its Flash-based Catch Up will launch, but it is widely expected to land this month. The public service broadcaster also confirmed to El Reg that it had no plans to release a desktop version of its rival to the Beeb’s iPlayer.

The BBC finally rolled out a desktop version of its iPlayer service in late 2008. That launch followed months of complaints from angry Mac and Linux users who were blocked from using the Windows XP-only service when it landed in July 2007.

By December 2007, the Beeb responded to demands for the service to be made available to everyone in the UK by offering a Flash-based version of iPlayer.

But it wasn't until the end of last year that Auntie was finally able to offer a desktop version of iPlayer. ®

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