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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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