He says that the “Play high quality” option will be available “from this week”, though I couldn’t see any sign of it on a brief sampling of available content.
The question: where does this leave the download service, based on peer-to-peer file sharing? This is the thing that caused me considerable hassle this time last year, and which also drew criticism because it is Windows-only.
By contrast, the Flash-based embedded video seems to have performed as smoothly as Flash usually does.
When Flash streaming was introduced, the BBC said that the download option would remain for higher-quality viewing, but with H.264 Flash that argument has little force. It is still comforting to have a downloaded file, in case your Net connection fails or becomes congested, but other than that there is little advantage. My guess is that it will wither. Supporting both must be expensive.
It is unfortunate for Microsoft, whose technology is losing out to Adobe’s at the BBC, particularly since Silverlight would probably have worked nicely in this context. Unfortunately the old iPlayer is not Silverlight, but based on Windows Media Player, known to be hassle-prone as well as being single platform.