It's a busy week for Microsoft...
As we hit the 'official' global launch for Windows 7 today (the national postal strike brought it to the UK early), Microsoft has brought us one additional surprise for its next generation OS: Sky TV.
A licensing deal sees Windows Media Center in 7 now integrate Sky Player - the broadcaster's online TV service and tie up a double header with the recent Xbox 360 Sky TV agreement. Existing Sky subscribers will be able to log in and get access to programming from over 30 Sky channels via an integrative TV EPG. If you aren't already a Sky subscriber on-demand content is offered for a monthly subscription.
Movies, live action sports, children's shows, music, arts and documentaries are available both to stream and download, though HD options aren't implemented yet. To complement the integration, Windows 7 will also provide a new Windows 7 desktop gadget (read: widget) which can be used as a shortcut to directly browse Sky content, search using keywords and navigate show galleries. A 2Mbit minimum broadband connection is recommended for jitter free viewing.
In related news BBC iPlayer has had its plans to add ITV and Channel 4 content to its database overruled by the BBC Trust. The regulator claimed the addition of ad-supported programming to its own ad-free shows would confuse the public and also undermine the value of the licence fee.
I can understand where the BBC Trust is coming from, then again putting the majority of UK terrestrial TV content all in one (highly popular) place doesn't seem confusing to me and I believe it would have been more beneficial than harmful. Ho+hum.
Microsoft UK Sky Player