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Don't cross the streams!

There has been some significant interest in Apple’s decision to stream today’s event using their HTTP streaming protocol around the Web.  While the event’s status is certainly high enough to draw a huge load, Apple has some measures in place to make sure the experience is a good one.  That’s important because many believe that the stream is also a showcase for both Apple’s streaming video technology as well as its North Carolina Data Center, which won’t be fully operational until later this year (according to Tim Cook at the last earnings call).  The last time Apple streamed an event was 2002 when 50,000 people joined in.  We might see 10x that.

The stream quality is important because Apple is selling both the studios and potential customers on its technology.

So what measures has Apple put in place?  It seems that no matter what version of Quicktime you have, you will only be able to stream the event if you are running iOS or  Snow Leopard (read: No Tiger/Leopard/Windows/Linux devices).  As this is taking place in the middle of a workday, a lot of people won’t be able to catch the live stream, easing the load on Apple’s servers.

Macrumors has found a way around this, though it isn’t certain how well it will work in practice.  You will need to download the excellent Open Source Video Player VLC here and enter a special URL in the streaming portion.  Here’s an example:

Also, for people whose machines don’t match Apple’s requirements, there will be a hundred people re-streaming the event on Ustream and using Flash.  While it will be a few seconds behind, that might be the best route for PC users and others with Flash.

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