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Lab Doors Are Open

May 28th, 2009 by Eric Feng

An interesting stat I’ve always bought into is that you learn an order of magnitude more about your product after you ship it. For example, only 20 percent of the original Hulu.com code from our beta launch is still in use — we had to rewrite the other 80 percent to adapt to the ever-changing, and often unanticipated, needs of our users. It’s uncanny how users can take features in directions you never thought of, and teach you how to make them more interesting and useful along the way.

To help us learn from user feedback even earlier in our development lifecycle, we’re excited to open up a new Hulu Labs section on the site today. At Hulu Labs, we’ll provide sneak peeks at some of the upcoming releases from our product roadmap, some of which are personal projects and hobbies our devs have been cooking up. From new recommendation algorithms to tools for building custom widgets to a time-based view for browsing your favorite shows, we’ll be sharing a variety of these new creations with you at Hulu Labs and looking forward to your thoughts on how to make these products better.

Headlining our Hulu Labs release today is Hulu Desktop, a new downloadable application that allows you to find and enjoy your favorite Hulu videos in a rich, full-screen computer window that you can control with your mouse and keyboard or any six-button PC or Mac remote control. Hulu Desktop was built by a small group on our engineering team (two devs, one designer, one product manager) who asked themselves one day: how can we make it easier for users to immerse themselves in the great shows and movies Hulu is fortunate to have access to? Our answer was to build a new PC and Mac application that gives users the option to step outside of their browser, keyboard and mouse and into something different. We’ve always aspired to provide the best video viewing experience possible on your “lappity-toppity boxes” and make online video more fun to watch. And working together with our media partners, we hope Hulu Desktop is another positive step towards building a legal, long-lasting service that earns us the right to continue serving you.

As with other Hulu Labs projects, Hulu Desktop is still in beta and undergoing changes, but we’re excited to give you this early look and hear what you think. Please share your feedback with us — the good, the bad, and the ugly — anytime on the Hulu Labs discussion board.

Eric ()
CTO, Hulu

Last comment: about 18 hours ago 72 Comments
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  • What this is, is personal opinion. Everyone has a different take on things

  • That is true to a certain extent only

  • sinfulldreamer says:

    Nice interface and all. The only thing that is annoying is when I start up the thing, it starts playing a video all by it’s self. I’d like to simply go to my menu and pick out a video for myself insted of watching something Hulu thinks I should watch on start up.

  • Axel says:

    Really? Hulu Desktop? That sounds great! Now I can watch… wait, no, I used to be able to do this exact same thing on a free application called Boxee. Then Jason Kilar made a blog post back in February going on about how it was such a hard decision but they had to cut them off, because the content providers demanded it. And now the content providers are endorsing…

    Oh, see, see, I see what you did there. Cute.

    I was on your side, when I had Hulu violently jerked from my TV. I followed the “the content providers made us” tripe, and I thought “poor Hulu, they’re trying to be innovative, but the content providers just don’t get it and won’t let them.” And now we get this out of left field (with Boxee still blocked, last I looked, though they may have found yet another workaround). Sadly, I’m not a psychic, so I can’t look into the intentions of individuals. Being the not-a-mind-reader I am, it now looks a lot like an underhanded stab in the back so that you could release your own exclusive client.

    Other companies have done that. It’s really not that unbusiness-like. But you at least say “you know, we’re actually uncomfortable with third party interactions with our content, and would prefer you use our client instead.” You don’t cry “it’s out of our hands, boo hoo”.

    I’m not going to start spouting “Hulu is just a corporate butt-puppet” or “you’ve lost me as a viewer for ever and ever amen” like I keep hearing. And I hate to give a kick in the teeth for trying to offer functionality. But, I do want to say that the whole mix of things has a really bad smell to it. Bad form, and all that rot. I heard the words “good faith” passed around a lot back in February, but I haven’t actually seen much of it. It might be nice, when you get this thing solid, to offer a bone back to the guys you pushed around. Maybe something in the form of an approved and clean API for third party interactions. Something to ensure your content flows as intended, with the functionality you snatched away.

  • [...] the popular online destination for streaming TV shows and movies, just opened up its new Labs project and one of the first projects to come out of the Hulu lab is a desktop [...]

  • Michael says:

    You know the Linux crowd would love you forever. Please?

  • [...] Internet, Website Hulu today announced the opening of Hulu Labs, a section of their site dedicated to new features still in beta testing to improve the average [...]

  • david says:

    hulu says:

    “how can we make it easier for users to immerse themselves in the great shows and movies Hulu is fortunate to have access to? Our answer was to build a new PC and Mac application”

    You mean your answer was to block access to the existing hulu userbase who -already- accessed your content on the big screen.

    Please stop arbitrarily blocking web browsers and applications from accessing your content. I’m not going to run yet another application when I can instead aggregate everyone’s content into a single platform.

    ..david (an ex-hulu viewer using boxee)

  • [...] appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 May 2009 21:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  • [...] FENG CTO de Hulu a déclaré dans le blog de sa société : « Hulu desktop a été développé par un petit groupe de nos ingénieurs (2 [...]

  • Yes, please bring Hulu Desktop to Linux. It would be awesome, and I would be on Hulu even more!! Come on…you know you want to…;)

  • [...] has added its own application for playing outside of a browser which works on Windows and Mac(but not Linux). [...]

  • egg salad sandwich says:

    would LOVE to see hulu on the xbox 360.

  • steve nash says:

    It’s funny because all I heard was blah blah blah I hate Canada.

  • [...] Thursday the mind gobbling aliens behind hulu opened up the door to their lab revealing some upcoming product extensions. The post comes from Hulu’s CTO, who [...]

  • [...] just launched their own boxee-like application for watching Hulu content. the new downloadable application is built to be used from the couch with [...]

  • Where is the Linux version? You guys made a Mac OS X and a Windows version. Linux has probably just the same amount of marketshare as OS X, and yet because of browser string spoofing and other factors, Linux is only counted as 1-2%. I want to be able to use Hulu Desktop on my Linux box natively. After all, I watch my shows on Linux, and store it there too.

    Please bring Hulu Desktop to Linux!

  • Han Solo says:

    No Linux!? Jesus give me a break, first you play hardass retards with Boxee, and then NO LINUX desktop version?!

    Man you guys are a bunch assholes.

  • [...] has announced and released Hulu Desktop for Mac, which arrives with essentially one noteworthy [...]

  • Rob says:

    I notice that Hulu is still committed to overseas broadcasting. I wonder where I can find details of the level of committment and progress that Hulu is achieving to bringing such content to the rest of the world?

    Come on guys ‘n’ girls, don’t tell the rest of the world that you’re committed when it’s quite clear that the rest of the world is not on the agenda – we’d prefer a straight up denial of service instead of the same old plattitudes!

  • brad White says:

    Well I love it. Put it on my iMac and Macbook. Plays perfectly with no problems here in Hawaii. Good quality, no skipping and great experience. I am on TWC in Waikiki.

    Good job …

  • JV says:

    “our engineering team (two devs, one designer, one product manager) who asked themselves one day: how can we make it easier for users to immerse themselves in the great shows and movies Hulu is fortunate to have access to?”

    No offense, guys, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to this figure out. A WINDOWS MEDIA CENTER PLUG-IN AND SUPPORT FOR OTHER SET TOP BOXES not another application to install. Geez. Come on, “engineers” it’s obvious that this is what people want.

    Please?

  • Rebecca H. says:

    Camille, have you referred to the Support/FAQ page regarding playback issues? http://www.hulu.com/support/streaming

  • Camille says:

    What happened to service? I see many comments on this new desktop version crap, and none address the buffering, skipping, and all around poor quality of viewing experience. No, it’s not my connection or computer!!!! Start keeping up with the volume of users!!! Putting more money into the site, and less money into mainstream advertising. THAT would be a great start.

  • Chris says:

    How about a Media center plugin? I like Hulu, I really do but I don’t need another media interface. I need Hulu to fit into the media interface I already use. I really don’t get the problem.

  • aaron says:

    I have to agree with the other posters. boxee is a centralized, open source project the brings all internet video together, not just hulu content. Eric, Hulu already has ads embedded in the videos, so your forcing traffic to hulu’s site incomprehensible. The people who use boxee have no will open a web browser, or worse, be forced into a proprietary platform, dividing their content. what a waste.

  • Robert McCrory says:

    No linux version? I second (third? fourth?) letting boxee back into the game.

  • Ray Walker says:

    Where did my post of over 12hrs past go? Thanks for not only censoring your comments, but wasting your time and resources for also trying to block Boxee from using Hulu! Bad form!

    To re-state… I used to watch 2-4hrs of Hulu content daily via Boxee, but now that Hulu has been blocking/disabling viewing via Boxee, my viewing has dropped to 0hrs daily. I don’t have time or resources to watch Hulu content via other means (PC or Cable TV,) and I’m definitely not going to waste money on a Hulu device since I already have an AppleTV for viewing media on my TV. You’re only loosing customers and ad revenue by blocking these 3rd parties!!!

  • Jean-Etienne LaVallee says:

    Just wanted to add my feelings to the “Boxee Contingent”… I’ll probably not use this app… I think it’s great that you’ve put the effort into it and made it freely available and all the other kudos, but the fact of the matter is that Boxee and Tivo are my main TV-viewing frameworks and they work great.

    As an avid and dedicated Hulu viewer, I’d much rather see you put your time into supporting an official Boxee/XBMC plugin and/or a Tivo extension (similar to the YouTube and Netflix ones).

    For the record, I still pay for standard cable (well, FIOS-TV) service in addition to all my other online viewing activities.

  • [...] allows Mac and PC users to watch Hulu content without a browser in full-screen. According to the Hulu Blog you can use any standard six-button PC or Mac remote with this app, pretty [...]

  • I’m with the angry mob… If the content owners are ok with this why not let us use Boxee to access Hulu again. Or at least Boxee when it’s on non TV. My Mac Mini is plugged directly into my TV, how is that different from an TV?

  • [...] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Files under Gadgets [...]

  • [...] has released a desktop video client, called Hulu Desktop, allowing you to navigate Hulu’s entire library [...]

  • [...] as Windows Media Centre, or Apple TV), they’ll be able to control and navigate with that. Official blog post here. It’s also part of Hulu opening up a Labs [...]

  • Brandon Hatch says:

    Why is there no Linux support?! Why?

    I need to know if you plan on releasing a native Hulu Desktop app…before I start pushing this through twitter and to the various blogs and rss feeds around the net.

    24 hours Hulu. I want an answer. I will be notifying the major sites around the internet including, CNET, Slashdot, Tech News World, Linux and Open Source News, Linux Insider, Linux Journal, Linux News, LXer Linux News, OSDir, and, OSNews, linking them to the thread for Linux support showcasing the outcry of faithful Hulu watchers begging for a Linux client.

  • [...] Reading? Hulu have announced a new desktop app, the imaginatively titled Hulu Desktop, which brings “lean-back [...]

  • Gary says:

    How about getting some of your Labs engineers to write a Boxee app? Maybe then I’ll consider using your service again. Until then, I’m with icedtrip: this is lame.

  • hessmo says:

    I agree with pretty well everybody else, just release a WMC plugin, and let boxee do what they were already doing. Your market penetration will go through the roof.

  • [...] to Hulu content for a “rich, full-screen” video watching experience, Hulu said in a blog post. The offering is available on Windows and Mac – but not on Linux – and can be conntrolled via [...]

  • Jack says:

    Here is a notion. Give us a media center plug-on like the recently released netflix one so we don’t have to go through this garbage. Come on already guys, get with the program!

  • Fred says:

    Matt is exactly right. Any attempt to parse between a “Personal Computer” and any other personal computing device is ridiculous. My phone IS a “Personal Computer”! It just happens to run on a battery and in my pocket, just like any UMPC I would ever buy would. Any set-top box device I would buy IS a “Personal Computer”, most often running that great PC OS called Linux. Every “Personal Computer” I own, whether desktop or laptop or pocketable, can be connected to my HDTV. My current HDTV happens to accept many computer outputs through VGA, Component, or HDMI (which is pin compatible with DVI). Boxee runs ON a “Personal Computer”! And how is RESTRICTING the types of devices your ADVERTISING runs on of any business benefit?! Just goes to show, as usual, idiots are running the show.

  • [...] appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 May 2009 21:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Author: Richard Lawler [...]

  • [...] appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 May 2009 21:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  • [...] appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 May 2009 21:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  • [...] Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments ENGADGET [...]

  • [...] appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 May 2009 21:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email [...]

  • [...] appeared on Engadget on Thu, 28 May 2009 21:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.Read | Permalink | Email this | Comments Categories: Uncategorized [...]

  • [...] has just released their new Hulu Desktop application, part of their new Hulu Labs. Hulu Desktop is a lean-back [...]

  • Bryan says:

    Please bring hulu back to boxee. The fact that you have ignored the fact that boxee solved this problem some time ago is very disheartening. I’ll download this product when hulu decides to play nice with boxee.

  • SnoVi[er says:

    agreed, we (as in everybody else) already have a solution, Boxee or Plex work just fine thanks. Ohh and ditch your false boxee conflick message.

    Love the service, but the politics behind it makes you guys a joke.

  • Ray Walker says:

    What about boxee? Let boxee back in! Y’alls had me watching 2-6+ hrs a day when it worked on boxee. Now you’re hindering it and I’m now back to watching ZERO hours of your media per day. I’ll never “BUY” a hulu application box, because I already have more choices via boxee on AppleTV!!! Hulu’s methodologies are like a sinking ship…

  • [...] Hulu’s apparent hypocrisy, I’m quite pleased to see them release v0.9 of a desktop video client today. The (beta?) Hulu Desktop software is available for both [...]

  • Matt says:

    Eric HULU bills it self as TV for the internet but at the moment it seems that HULU only wants to be TV for the Personal Computer and the NBC lawyer that wrote this clause into the Terms of Service must of had their head in the sand for the past 5 years

    You may not download, install or use the Hulu Software on any device other than a Personal Computer including without limitation digital media receiver devices (such as Apple TV), mobile devices (such as a cell phone device, mobile handheld device or a PDA), network devices or CE devices (collectively “Prohibited Devices”).

    So How do you deal with Computers that have a TV out or a Device/card that will connect your laptop to a TV or a TV that has a Computer built into it do you put in technical protection measures similar to Macrovision like HULU already does to 3rd Party apps like Boxee or my Mediaplayer

    Or Will You Just Let Us

    WATCH TV WHERE WE WANT ,HOW WE WANT and HOW WE WANT

  • DaveZatz says:

    Small elephant in the room… Is that really what you asked yourselves? Or did you ask yourselves how you could make a Boxee while controlling both the horizontal and vertical?

  • [...] news today for Hulu lovers. Hulu is announcing the immediate availability of Hulu Desktop for Mac and PC. The current offering is one of many new [...]

  • Jeremy says:

    In his interview with Kara Swisher, NBC CEO Jeff Zucker “Right now we’re committed to Hulu being an online experience, and that’s where our vision is today, and I think that will continue,” when asked why hulu was actively making it harder for their content to be viewed by boxee. This desktop app which seems to be geared toward making hulu content more easily viewable on a TV seems to go against the vision expressed by Mr. Zucker. Since this vision seems to have changed now, can we look forward to better integration with boxee now as well?

  • icedtrip says:

    “how can we make it easier for users to immerse themselves in the great shows and movies Hulu is fortunate to have access to? Our answer was to build a new PC and Mac application that gives users the option to step outside of their browser, keyboard and mouse and into something different.”

    Uhm….Boxee was and still is the answer.

    Lame Hulu, just lame.

  • bluegene says:

    A great step forward. Any plan on releasing a Linux version?

  • [...] the popular online destination for streaming TV shows and movies, just open up its new Labs project and one of the first projects to come out of the Hulu lab is a desktop [...]

  • [...] to the Desktop Hulu, the popular online destination for streaming TV shows and movies, just open up its new Labs project and one of the first projects to come out of the Hulu lab is a desktop [...]

  • [...] the favourite online instruction for moving TV shows and movies, meet open up its newborn Labs send and digit of the prototypal projects to become discover of the Hulu work is a [...]

  • Doug K. says:

    So what are you going to say to Boxee now that you are doing the same thing. Pretty lame.

  • Mike Zappitello says:

    didnt we already have an application that made it easy to deliver hulu content to full screen view that was controlled with a remote? yeah…we did. it was called boxee.

  • [...] just launched their own boxee-like application for watching Hulu content. the new downloadable application is built to be used from the couch with [...]

  • [...] CTO Eric Feng writes of the launch on the company blog, Hulu Desktop was built by a small group on our engineering team (two devs, one [...]

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