Microsoft Smooth Streaming Provides True High-Definition Video Delivery

Monday, April 20th, 2009

Microsoft releases Smooth Streaming; CTV, HSN,, TV 2 and RAI among early adopters

LAS VEGAS — Furthering its vision to provide superior options for delivering online media experiences, today at the 2009 National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) released Smooth Streaming, a feature of Internet Information Services (IIS) Media Services. IIS Media Services is an integrated HTTP-based media delivery platform that includes extensions for cost-effectively measuring, monetizing and caching media. Microsoft highlighted growing industry adoption of Smooth Streaming from leading media customers such as electronic retailer HSN, and broadcasters such as, RAI, TV 2 and CTV, as well as media ecosystem partners, including content delivery networks (CDNs), encoding independent software vendors (ISVs) and digital rights management (DRM) service providers, that have announced support for Smooth Streaming.

“ has once again chosen Silverlight to stream the Olympics in high definition. Thanks to Silverlight 3 the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver is going to be a live and on-demand Smooth Streaming event with full 720p,” said Perkins Miller, senior vice president of Digital Media, NBC Sports & Olympics. “We’ll be able to deliver a continuous, high-quality online experience that mirrors the quality of the home viewing experience that our customers have come to expect.”

With Smooth Streaming, consumers get minimal buffering and fast startup time, because Smooth Streaming adapts the quality of the video stream in real time, based upon the consumer’s changing bandwidth and central processing unit conditions. Media companies can take advantage of Smooth Streaming features to boost advertising and subscription revenues by using true high-definition (HD) video (1080p) with uninterrupted delivery to extend viewing times. Smooth Streaming takes advantage of the Web’s massive existing HTTP infrastructure and brings superior performance and scalability to media experiences delivered using HTTP.

Microsoft also demonstrated end-to-end delivery of live streams delivered via Akamai Technologies Inc.’s AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight. Live encoding of video streams will be produced with Inlet Technologies’ Spinnaker, the first video encoder to support IIS Live Smooth Streaming. Live Smooth Streaming, currently in beta, provides personal video recorder (PVR)-style access and navigation to live video streams. Users can join events in progress, then quickly jump to the beginning or rewind the highlights.

At NAB, Microsoft also showed the latest developments with Silverlight. Silverlight 3, currently in beta, provides features to further improve online media experiences including support for native playback of MP4 formats (H.264/AAC), an extensible decoder pipeline, full-screen HD playback using graphics processing unit acceleration and out-of-browser capabilities.

“As online video continues to rapidly evolve, Microsoft is proud to offer a premier end-to-end Smooth Streaming solution that content providers can leverage to deliver true HD-quality, highly scalable and secure online video to their customers,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform at Microsoft. “Coupled with the power of Silverlight, IIS Live Smooth Streaming is further evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to ensure that our partners and customers have the tools and platforms they need to deliver high-quality online video experiences.”

Leading Solution Providers Announce Smooth Streaming Support

To ensure a range of solutions and services are available for the IIS Smooth Streaming platform, Microsoft has worked closely with partners across the digital media ecosystem. CDNs including AT&T, CDNetworks Co. Ltd., Internap Network Services Corp., Level 3 Communications LLC and Limelight Networks Inc., as well as encoding product vendors including Digital Rapids, Envivio Inc., Grab Networks Inc. (Anystream), Inlet Technologies, Rhozet, Telestream Inc., VBrick Systems Inc., ViewCast Corp. and Winnov Inc., have all announced products and services supporting Smooth Streaming.

To provide the highest level of content protection, Microsoft has implemented Silverlight DRM powered by PlayReady for live and on-demand smooth streaming. Leading DRM application service providers such as BuyDRM, CDNetworks, Entriq Inc., ExtendMedia Corp., Ipercast Inc. and iStreamPlanet Co. have announced support for Silverlight DRM. In addition, at NAB, BuyDRM and Envivio demonstrated the first implementation of protected Live Smooth Streaming encoding using Silverlight DRM.

IIS Media Services, an Integrated Platform for Media Delivery Using HTTP

IIS Media Services (previously IIS Media Pack) consists of five media-relevant extensions for IIS:

  • Smooth Streaming, adaptive streaming of on-demand media for Silverlight
  • Live Smooth Streaming, live adaptive streaming delivery to Silverlight
  • Advanced Logging, rich, real-time client- and server-side logging
  • Bit Rate Throttling, metering the speed at which media is delivered to a player
  • Web Playlists, secure sequencing of media content

With these features, companies can now manage and administer one infrastructure that delivers both rich media and other Web content, without requiring dedicated streaming servers.