Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Bouquets, Brickbats for Microsoft's 'Channel 9' 

Ryan Naraine

Microsoft's (Quote, Chart) attempts to put a human face on its corporate image took a small step forward with the unveiling of Channel 9, a Web site promoting dialogue between software evangelists and users. But problems with streaming video formats and Web browser incompatibility have left many users unable to access the site's hybrid features.

Channel 9, created by a team of Microsoft evangelists to encourage dialogue between Microsoft employees, software users and third-party developers, includes video interviews, blog entries, RSS (define) feeds, wikis and discussion forums.

On Tuesday when the site went live, it logged more than 10,000 concurrent visitors at one time, according to Microsoft Longhorn evangelist Robert Scoble, one of the primary movers behind the creation of Channel 9.

But many visitors flocking to the site soon found that proprietary Microsoft technologies shut them out. For instance, users of Mozilla's Firefox Web browser encountered problems rendering the pages and viewing the video feeds. Channel 9, which makes heavy use of video interviews with Microsoft employees, delivers the streams exclusively in the Windows Media 9 format, effectively ignoring a section of the audience using Linux, Unix and competing operating systems.

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