Warning – this one is a bit of a rant. With pictures.

I’ve just tried to watch a video on the BBC website on a new(ish) MacBook running the latest version of the Mac operating system (Leopard). But of course, I’d forgotten, you need Real Player or Windows Media Player to watch their video:

No Real Player

Grrr. Please use Flash video, as you’re using on the iPlayer, not clunky old RealPlayer. Anyway, I’ll download the wretched software and install it for the future. Or will I?

So I head off to www.real.com to download the latest version. I click the big shiny “Download FREE RealPlayer” button. And a Windows .exe begins to download. Hello? I’m on a Mac! So the download is cancelled. I spot under the button in tiny writing “Other versions / languages”. It seems like the much touted version 11 of RealPlayer isn’t available for OSX, so I’ll have to use version 10 instead. Stupidly, I click the first link for OSX, and the download is offered in Spanish…

So I return to the previous page, and find the English version at the bottom. Most websites these days are able to tell your OS and your language automatically – can’t Real do that? Anyway, I select the rather old-fashioned link to the copy hosted by Demon Internet which downloads rather swiftly (Demon are my ISP).

The RealPlayer icon extracts itself from a dmg (disk image) into my downloads folder. Great! I can just drag it into my Applications folder like a normal Mac program!

Real Player icon

…well actually that’s not how it’s done, as I find out by double-clicking the icon…

RealPlayer setup

Another dialogue between me and the video (it’s just the weather forecast for heaven’s sake!). So I follow the necessary steps, agree to sell my soul by agreeing to the license without reading it, save this draft, let it close my browser, and (cue fanfare):

RealPlayer10Gold for the Mac

So I eagerly open my Safari web browser, and head off to the BBC Weather homepage to watch that all-important weather forecast (snow tomorrow, apparently, and we don’t get it that often here).

The fanfare rapidly turns into a parping sound:

No Real Player

I give up.

Please BBC, please fix your videos to use Flash video or something that will work with a modern slimline, cross-platform plugin.

This is now 2008. The process I’ve just been through feels like 1998, and I have deja vu…

Postscript

After posting this, I had another close look and it seemed that the BBC site had decided that I chose Windows Media Player as my preference (which I hadn’t).

BBC video preferences

Just clicking on OK set my preference to RealPlayer, and lo, the holy Weather Forecast was watched:

BBC Weather forecast

Amen…