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Silverlight 4 and IIS Media Services 3 Promise Superior Content Delivery

by Abel Avram on Sep 10, 2009 |

Microsoft has announced the upcoming release of a new generation of IIS Media Services, v. 3.0, and it is going to hold an early preview of Silverlight 4 features during International Broadcasting Conference 2009 (IBC) on September 11-15th. Main features are: interactive, high-definition streaming of video content, native multicast and offline DRM support.

IIS Media Services 3.0 is an HTTP-based media delivery platform comprising:

  • 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, meters the speed that media is delivered to a player
  • Web Playlists, secure sequencing of media content

IIS Media Services offer both on-demand and live HD media streaming of up to 1080p, feature called Smooth Streaming, plus logging for real-time analysis. Besides offering uninterrupted streaming of content to users, it can be used to deliver large amounts of content for live events. The technology was first used during Olympic Games in 2008. IIS Media Services also integrates PlayReady, a Microsoft technology offering content protection. The main 3 components of PlayReady are:

  • Microsoft PlayReady Device Porting Kit, which enables device manufacturers to include support for PlayReady-protected content in their devices.
  • Microsoft PlayReady PC Software Development Kit, which enables application developers to build support for PlayReady-protected content in their Windows applications.
  • Microsoft PlayReady Server Software Development Kit, which is software that encrypts and packages content for delivery to customers. In addition, the kit issues licenses to clients to enable decryption of PlayReady-protected content.

The PlayReady technology can be used to encrypt a large array of media files including WMA, WMV, AAC, AAC+, enhanced AAC+, H.263, and H.264. Accessing the content of such a file requires a license that is accorded to a single media player or home network domain. Theoretically, PlayReady promises content copyright enforcement. PlayReady is backward compatible with Windows Media DRM 10 but offers a much larger support of content types, network domain licenses and embedded licenses.

IIS Media Services has been in beta since March 2009 and will be released along with a Smooth Streaming player (EXE) development kit in about 30 days. In the meantime, its Smooth Streaming capabilities have been tested among others by Canal+, France 24, NBC Sports, Sat. 1, ProSieben and TV 2.

On the client side, Microsoft will demonstrate Silverlight 4 features like multicast and PlayReady support during IBC 2009. This allows secured broadcasting of HD TV content to major PC and Mac’s browsers, but also offering out-of-the browser experiences. Movie studios can use IIS Media Services and Silverlight to offer the same experience over streamed content like they use to offer with DVDs and Blu-Rays, and even a richer experience by providing updates to the content, special offers and live content. Microsoft and Tesco have recently signed a deal to deliver online content with Silverlight.

Microsoft has promised to release to the public the IIS Smooth Streaming Transport Protocol and Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) specification under the Microsoft Community Promise hoping to drive the adoption of an industry standard for media delivery that works across a large variety of devices.

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