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The BBC today announced they have signed memorandum of understanding with Microsoft. This is a non-exclusive contract, which means that whilst the BBC will almost certainly be forced to used Microsoft products, Microsoft need not use any BBC content.
This new partnership, which has been entered into by the BBC management, is supposed to add BBC programmes to the msn web sites, MSN (now Windows Live) messenger, game console Xbox360 and Windows Media Centre.
"The BBC needs to work with all players in this space to make sure our programmes and content are enjoyed by the widest possible audience, without always having to come to bbc.co.uk to find it.
"The learnings (sic) from our US visit will very much inform our thinking on the BBC's creative future."
This means that Microsoft will be able to leaver value out of the BBC via the plans for its online archive, for a radically re-invented website in the web 2.0 world a second generation of internet-based services and for ways to share its online content in the future.
So, whilst the rest of the world (Google being an example) are implementing their technology on the low-cost non-Microsoft products, our licence fee payers money will be siphoned off to Redmond.
It's obvious what this means, it means that Microsoft will be able to do their usual trick and do a reverse take-over of the BBC's technology infrastructure and force everyone in the UK to keep on using the Microsoft drug.
I've seen it before, of course. They did it to BT, got BT to sign up to using Microsoft Software as their 'standard software', for a huge discount initially, locking out other suppliers by the defacto use of Microsoft products. This was in return for BT supplying a pointless X25 network that provided the original MSN network (the one that came with Windows 95) which Microsoft then dropped in favour of the Internet.
I also saw it happen a few years ago at Yorkshire Electricity, when the strategic contract with KPMG and Microsoft did the same thing - froze out other suppliers. At the time Microsoft were forcing their "Commerce Server" product onto the company. They did this through a similar "memorandum of misunderstanding" which forced the executive levels of the company to use software which, to be frank, did not work.
Why has the BBC done this?
One reason, of course, is that WE LICENCE FEE PAYERS will have to now PAY MICROSOFT an UNDISCLOSED amount - I have put in a few Freedom of Information requests about this - to prevent us watching television programmes that WE HAVE PAID FOR, just so the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC Worldwide can flog these programmes abroad.
Now, whilst I am not against people selling BBC programme formats abroad, the track record for BBC Worldwide returning money to the BBC is more-or-less nothing at all.
Forget the tiny amount - one point two million quid - spent on the new BBCone indents, we are all going to have to pay many, many, many times this amount - and all directly to Microsoft - just to implement the DRM (digital rights management) in the iPlayer.
Ashley Highfield is a prize chump and he has spent OUR MONEY on stopping us watching our programmes and given it to Microsoft.
What *I* think we should do is take all this money that we are going to waste and give away to Microsoft and give small extra payments to the BBC people and just let the whole of the BBC library be available on the internet. If the BBC cannot be persuaded to do this, then it will die.