You know, it’s got be something pretty special to get me to fire up Parallels on my Mac. After playing with Windows XP for a while I soon tired of every PC program.

But I was pleasantly surprised to find a beta password for the BBC iPlayer account in my inbox this morning. Regular Macworld readers will know that the BBC’s iPlayer is infamous in the Mac community for being a Windows-only product (something that the BBC is hastily changing following accusations of system bias).

However, it’s Windows-only for now so time to fire up Parallels and take a look, I thought.

iPlayer

Sadly it’s been pretty disappointing so far. Firstly the set of system requirements are pretty specific (Windows XP, Media Player 10 or 11 and Internet Explorer 6). No support for Windows Explorer 7 or Vista so those users are out of luck. One area of concern was that it placed ticks next to everything but gave me a sorry message. I had to phone up a colleague on PC Advisor who’s spent all morning getting to work, and he gave me the specifics.

iPlayer installation

Installation is a bit of a pain too. You’re sent one password for the website, but have to register another for the iPlayer. I spent a good five minutes typing the password they emailed me into the wrong part – clearer instructions wouldn’t go amiss.

Downloading the files (which works on a BitTorrent-style file sharing system) seems slow at the moment. I’ve set it running and 20 minutes later I’ve got just 10 per cent of an episode of University Challenge, 7 per cent of Hyperdrive, 3 per cent of Utopia and Doctor Who is sitting on the block. This could be because the system is new though – as more users sign up it should start to fly. It does, however, mean I can’t give any comment as to the quality of the video playback yet.

More on this tomorrow when it’s all working properly.