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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 15:58 GMT
BBC vows to reinvent web services
David Tennant as Doctor Who
BBC programmes like Doctor Who will be available for download
The BBC has outlined plans to redesign its online offering for an era of on-demand TV and radio, and personalised web services.

Ashley Highfield, director of the BBC's new media division, shared a platform with Microsoft boss Bill Gates at a technology conference in Las Vegas.

Mr Highfield said the BBC would work with technology firms like Microsoft.

He also showed off the BBC's Integrated Media Player (iMP), designed to allow users seven-day access to TV shows.

The iMP, which uses peer-to-peer technology to distribute BBC content across the internet, has been undergoing extensive user trials.

"Audience needs are changing. They want to consume media on their own terms, anytime, anyplace, anyhow," Mr Highfield told the audience at the Microsoft Mix06 conference.

We have a duty of universality, so it's vital that we innovate through a number of strategic partnerships
Ashley Highfield
BBC director of new media
Mr Highfield demonstrated how a system like iMP could work on a computer running Microsoft's updated Windows Vista operating system as part of a potential home entertainment solution.

He suggested the BBC would seek partnerships with other major media players.

"We have a duty of universality, so it's vital that we innovate through a number of strategic partnerships with technology companies and distributors such as Microsoft, Apple, Sony, Homechoice, NTL and Telewest," he said.

Seamless delivery of media from domestic PCs to TV sets at home was "the last 10 yards of railtrack" currently under development, he added.

Rapid change online

Microsoft used the inaugural Mix conference to gather a host of new media players in Las Vegas.

Microsoft's Bill Gates
Bill Gates wants Microsoft to be at the forefront of online change
The BBC was joined by representatives from web pioneers Amazon and eBay, as well as the hugely successful community site MySpace, recently bought by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

Mr Gates opened the conference with a keynote address discussing the challenges facing companies involved in online business.

"As the internet becomes an increasingly powerful way for companies to interact with customers, software and services provide almost unlimited opportunities to extend those interactions," he said.

He hailed the companies taking part in the conference as among those "transforming" the way customers interact with businesses online and use the internet in their daily lives.


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