While not everybody owns a laptop, almost everybody owns a mobile phone. The latest generations have reasonably sized screens (for something that goes in your pocket) and enough resolution to watch reasonable quality video. I got my current phone a little over 18 months ago, free with a cheap contract, and it is capable of playing back MPEG-4 videos. With 1GB of storage, it's also capable of storing quite a few. Of course, it can't play back Microsoft DRM's content.
Why do I say "of course?" Because, in the mobile phone market place, Microsoft only has around 6% market share. When it comes to mobile phones, making a Microsoft-only product makes as much sense as making a Mac-only desktop product. It's worth doing sometimes, but not if you're aiming for the biggest market possible.
This could change a lot in the next year. Imagine going into a mobile phone shop and being told "this one can play back BBC TV, and this one can't." Which one would you choose? Unless you have a pathological hatred of Microsoft's SmartPhone OS (which would be quite understandable, since most mobile phone interfaces tend to engender this feeling), you'd probably go for the BBC-compatible one, and watch Microsoft's market share climb. Well, maybe you wouldn't, but if one in twenty people used that as their main purchasing criterion, Microsoft's market share would double. This doubling would come not from developing a better product, but rather from the fact the BBC had chosen to only support one platform.
Straying slightly from mobile phones, a lot of people seem to be wandering around with portable media players these days. Most of these are iPods. In the UK, currently, none of them are Zunes, since the Zune UK launch has been delayed until 2008. So, in the portable media player market, one of the prime candidates for watching downloaded TV shows, we see the following breakdown:
— Apple: 70-80%
— Others: 20-30%
— Microsoft: 0%
Are there more people who own iPods than own TVs that are better than their computer monitors? Are there more people who own a Symbian mobile phone than own a Windows laptop? I suspect the answer to both of these questions is a resounding "yes." While choosing a Windows-only solution might make sense if your only market is desktop operating systems, it starts to look slightly ridiculous when you look at people who might actually want to use the service.