Mac and Linux versions of BBC iPlayer are now available, after the BBC finally made the online TV tool available for operating systems other than Windows.

The BBC worked with Adobe to develop a cross-platform version of its BBC iPlayer Desktop application; the new version of iPlayer uses Adobe Air technology to enable cross-platform support.

While Mac and Linux users have been able to watch iPlayer content via the BBC iPlayer website, the new application enables them to download shows and store them locally on their computer.

BBC iPlayer review

Users looking to download the new iPlayer Desktop application can get a trial version from the Labs section of the iPlayer site. The finished version is likely to be released in February 2009.

When iPlayer was first launched, the BBC was heavily criticised by both the Mac and Linux communities for creating a program that only worked with Windows XP. The Windows version of iPlayer uses Microsoft's Digital Rights Management (DRM) to ensure that television programmes can't be watched after seven days.

Speaking to the BBC News website, the BBC's head of digital media Anthony Rose defended the BBC's adoption of DRM technology saying: "The BBC Trust said we could make content available for seven or 30 days after broadcast," he said. "The ability to take things away after some time requires DRM."

BBC iPlayer now uses three DRM technologies: Windows Media Player, Adobe Air and OMA for mobile devices. The BBC also enables media to be streamed (but not downloaded) to the iPhone in using Apple's H.264 codec. Because Apple does not share its FairPlay DRM with other companies the BBC has had to use Adobe Air to enable DRM content to be downloaded to the Mac. Because the iPhone does not support Adobe Flash, a version of BBC iPlayer for iPhone would seem to be still some way away.

"We may embrace other DRMs as needed," said Mr Rose. The BBC news site also noted that putting the iPlayer on phones, game consoles and more computers was helping to drive the success of the application.