The world of streaming has changed enormously in the 10 years that this website has existed. In 2004, there were only a couple hundred radio stations streaming – now at least two thirds of all radio station stream, along with 24 hour streams of many of the syndicated programs.
Ten years ago, your options for streaming were very limited. If you were an Apple user, you were forced to use QuickTime or eventually iTunes. There were a few proprietary players available like Realplayer, AOL and Yahoo, but it would be several years before the first streaming would show up on portable devices like BlackBerries or Windows CE tablets. Microsoft – as it frequently does – believed the key to their success was creating proprietary products and protecting them with patents and lawyers and preventing their products from working on non-Microsoft devices. The marketplace said “go fuck you” and the ASX proprietary protocols quietly were switched to non-Microsoft protocols.
Regular readers know that when Microsoft ended support for Windows XP, I ended my support for Microsoft. I have since been using Fedora Linux as my desktop operating system of choice. One big concern I have based on prior attempts was lack of support for the formats that radio stations were using for streaming.
Well that’s all changed – in part pushed by the need for compatibility for cell phones and other portable tablets. Flash became a security nightmare and anyone with a clue has dropped it like a hot potato. The security is so fundamentally flawed now flash has to force you to affirmatively states that you trust each source to not hijack your computer. The emergence of HTML5 has done away with many of the old problems.
I was going through the player type list, updating it to indicate which players are “Linux friendly” by testing them using Linux. The state-of-the-art is – almost all players are now Linux friendly. Surfernetwork stands out is the one exception – they insist on using Microsoft’s proprietary Silverlight player. I wrote to them about this and received no response.
So here we are. When I created a directory, it had significant value because there was such a hodgepodge of incompatible players and so few stations streaming. Now almost all stations anyone would want to listen to our streaming, and using players that are universally compatible. There is no need to have a Windows based desktop computer to be able to stream – in fact that’s the least convenient method now. The final installment of “Atlas shrugged” is coming out this fall. Change is in the air.