BBC plans to lock viewers into Microsoft monopoly

The UK's Open Source trade association has criticized the BBC's plans to limit access to their on-demand television services to Microsoft Windows. The Open Source Consortium (OSC) believes the plans are anti-competitive and will use public money to lock viewers into the technologies of a repeatedly convicted monopolist.

A report from the BBC Trust states that, for the first two years, services will be unavailable to consumers who neither use Microsoft software nor have an up-to-date version of the Windows operating system. The OSC believes that, if the BBC were to proceed with its plans, license fees will be spent promoting a single IT company over its competitors - a position which some observers claim will breach the broadcaster's charter.

This two year period comes at a criticial period for operating system vendors. Microsoft is working hard to convince consumers to switch to Vista and looking for reasons to get them to make the switch at a time when alternatives such as Linux look increasingly attractive. Once Microsoft has entrenched Vista as the de-facto standard, it may be very difficult to shift. The amendments the BBC Trust has made are to be welcomed as far as they go, but in real commercial terms they do little to address the concerns.

OSC Chief Executive, Iain Roberts said: "Our members are competing hard in a fast-moving market and winning new customers every day. Seeing their licence fees going to advertise one of their largest competitors is not acceptable, especially from the BBC which has a duty to be unbiased. We want the BBC to reject any moves that restrict consumer choice."