Microsoft officially launches Windows Azure Media Services

Microsoft's Windows Azure division has now officially launched a new service that will allow business customers a way to stream video to a wide variety of hardware and platforms. It's called Windows Azure Media Services and while its been in development for some time today is the first day it is available for general use.

In a post on his blog, Microsoft VP Scott Guthrie goes over what customers can expect from this new service. He states that it has already been used by a number of international broadcasters for streaming video during the 2012 London Summer Olympics. He adds:

With today’s release, you now have everything you need to quickly build great, extremely scalable, end-to-end media solutions for streaming on-demand video to consumers on any device.  For example, you can easily build a media service for delivering training videos to employees in your company, stream video content for your web-site, or build a premium video-on-demand service like Hulu or Netflix.

Yes, cute cat videos are supported by Windows Azure Media Services

The service has a number of options for uploading videos to the servers and it also includes built-in support for encoding the uploaded videos to several different file formats. Guthrie says that with other similar services, the video needs to be packaged in either Multi-bitrate HLS file-sets or multi-bitrate Smooth Streaming files. Windows Azure Media Services does away with the middleman. He states:

With dynamic packaging, we now allow users to store a single file format and stream to many adaptive protocol formats automatically.  The packaging and conversion happens in real-time on the origin server which results in significant storage cost and time savings.

The service allows businesses to stream video for users that have iOS and Android devices, along with Windows 8, Xbox 360, and Windows Phone hardware. it also supports Flash Player, Silverlight and unnamed embedded devices.

Source: Scott Guthrie's blog | Image via Microsoft

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16 Comments

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They've been good at moving technology from azure to server and from server back to azure. I wouldn't be surprised at all if something like this makes it into the next big update to windows server 2012.

GP007 said,
They've been good at moving technology from azure to server and from server back to azure. I wouldn't be surprised at all if something like this makes it into the next big update to windows server 2012.

That's true actually, if this makes its way into server then that would be awesome!

ingramator said,

That's true actually, if this makes its way into server then that would be awesome!

Wouldn't it be better to let Azure's HW and network infrastructure take the hit than your own? I tend to imagine the costs involved in setting up enough infrastructure on your own for something like this would quickly outweigh letting them do it for you. If you can simply embed the feed (from Azure) in your company webpage's layout would that be enough?

scorp508 said,
....

There are always control freaks who would prefer to run things on premise.
There are also legal requirements that Azure cannot meet in many countries, requiring on-premise solutions.

Exactly, Microsoft has been good at giving you the choice of having both cloud/hosted and on premise options. This is why I expect to see this find it's way to windows server as well.

scorp508 said,
Wouldn't it be better to let Azure's HW and network infrastructure take the hit than your own? I tend to imagine the costs involved in setting up enough infrastructure on your own for something like this would quickly outweigh letting them do it for you. If you can simply embed the feed (from Azure) in your company webpage's layout would that be enough?
We stream silverlight from our office now. The "hit" is the encoding. If you pre-encode the only real hit is setting up DRM (if you want to make it harder to save/record/etc.) To setup a DRM licensing service it's pretty hefty. Hopefully Azure will allow you to stream out of your shop using their licensing system. But to toss a video up on their cloud platform, have them do the encoding for variable bitrate streaming, and use server side api's to license clients etc while hosting it on your website... that would be fantastic.

Maybe the bloody BBC will use this for their iPlayer streaming, and let ANY device stream - INCLUDING Windows Phone devices, and maybe get a Windows 8 app out the door!

About time! This is going to be a really cool service and will let businesses do away with customized solutions that are slow an unstable!

Anthony S said,
*cough* Amazon Web Services *cough, cough*
Hey look, someone who can't grasp what he's reading due to lack of understanding of technology on a tech news comments forum. Unheard of.

Anthony S said,
*cough* Amazon Web Services *cough, cough*

*cough* Netflix going down every 5 minutes because it runs on AWS *cough, cough*

nohone said,
*cough* Netflix going down every 5 minutes because it runs on AWS *cough, cough*
To be fair, Azure has had its outages too. I'd love to see a cost comparison of like services.

MrHumpty said,
To be fair, Azure has had its outages too. I'd love to see a cost comparison of like services.

They all have issues. But this gives options for pricing and stability. Even better, Netflix could use both services, one as a backup so if something goes wrong, flip a switch and there would be a hiccup and you may need to restart the movie, but it would still work.