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Microsoft was due to take the full fat version of its video player out of beta today, treating UK viewers to high-end entertainment such as Skins, Shameless and The Young Ones.

The MSN Video Player will offer around 1,000 hours of shows, according to New Media Age. Wife Swap and Peep Show will also be among the offerings, according to The Times, with viewers able to view entire series as well as just catch up on just-broadcast programmes.

But there will be a price to pay for this enriching cultural output. Viewers will be hit with 30-second ad spots before, during and after the programmes, The Times says.

Inevitably comparisons are being drawn with the Beeb's iPlayer, not least because Redmond's service has former iPlayer chief Ashley Highfield at the helm.

Highfield told The Times: “Our content is aimed at those who are tech-savvy and young. We want to feature content that goes down well with young couples and families who want to watch together.”

Which will be why Microsoft has partnered with the likes of Endemol, and Location Location Location producer RDF.

You can access the service here. We note that the service is currently recommending viewers watch Make Me Perfect, Banzai and Jack Dee and Joan Rivers.

Perhaps this demonstrates Microsoft's confidence in its video quality - lots of fun to be had there spotting the wrinkles, blemishes and surgery scars.

Classicists will be pleased to see it features Doctor Who, Bottom and Ripping Yarns. ®

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