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Channel 4 brings TV catch-up to Web browsers, Mac and Linux

Channel 4's free TV catch-up service can now be accessed with any Web browser on Windows, Mac and Linux, for free ad-supported streaming

Channel 4's free TV catch-up service, 4oD, can now be accessed with any Web browser on Windows, Mac and Linux, putting the last 30 days of its programming on its Web site, for free ad-supported streaming.

It's the would-be step cousin of the BBC's iPlayer, using Adobe Flash video -- like YouTube -- instead of Windows Media Video. Before now, the service was only available to Windows users, and forced you to install a clunky desktop application to view content. We make no secret that we at Crave abandoned the service on account of the application being unbearable to use.

So as of today, you'll find shows such as Skins, 90210, The Big Bang Theory, Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares and everyone's favourite, Desperate Midwives, on C4's Web site -- all ad-supported, but completely free. As long as you don't mind sitting through an ad before your show begins, you can watch an entire series of episodes from the last 30 days, gratis, without installing any desktop software.

There's a drop-down box towards the top of the page that lists all the shows currently available to watch. The list is impressively extensive, with shows from Channel 4, More 4 and E4 all part of the package.

Every silver lining has a cloud

As a product, the revamped catch-up service resides in beta, and there are some kinks we'd like to see ironed out: there's a distracting ad box next to the video player, and although it's more than watchable, we'd like to see video quality cranked up a notch for better full-screen viewing.

Additionally, we were told this will simply be a streaming service, lacking any download option (you'll still need the Windows-only desktop app for this), and subtitling appears to be missing on all the shows we checked out.

When asked, a C4 spokesperson told CNET UK there would be "no change" to the 4oD service delivered to set-top boxes from the likes of Virgin Media.

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