Microsoft and the BBC have said they plan to explore cutting-edge ways that the BBC can deliver content.

The announcement, made yesterday, follows one earlier this year from the BBC when the broadcaster said it is working on launching services that allow it to deliver content to users whenever they want it and on a variety of devices.

The BBC stressed that the partnership with Microsoft is non-exclusive. The broadcaster has a longstanding relationship with RealNetworks, which includes the launch late last year of BBC World News as part of the RealNetworks SuperPass streaming video service in the US. The BBC has other streaming media offerings through RealNetworks around the world.

As part of the Microsoft announcement, the BBC said it wants to work with many companies in the content distribution area so that viewers don't have to visit the main website to find content.

Some of the types of services the companies may collaborate on include search, site navigation and distribution. The BBC said it considers Microsoft to be a gateway to audiences that the BBC wishes to reach, through services such as MSN, Windows Live, the Xbox and Windows Media Center.

The BBC and Microsoft also discussed new strategies from the BBC, including its plans for an online archive, a new website and new ways to distribute online content.

As part of its announcement earlier this year, the BBC launched a trial site where visitors could find information about the one million programs stored in the BBC's archive. The broadcaster also said it was investigating better ways to label content in order to improve search and that it planned to launch a streaming media service.