Software giant Microsoft and leading content delivery network (CDN) Akamai are working together to deliver high-definition video to PCs through Microsoft’s Silverlight Web video player.
Microsoft has developed a new Web server technology called Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7.0) Smooth Streaming, which is designed to provide consumers with instant start-up times and no buffering by adapting the encoding rate of the video stream in real time based upon changes in the speed of the consumer’s broadband connection.
Such “adaptive streaming” technology, which relies on constant communication between a Web server and a software client on a consumer’s PC, is already used by Flash video specialists such as Move Networks to deliver high-quality streaming for programmers like ABC and Fox. Such programmers believe that delivering higher-quality video will lead to longer viewing times and thus, boost Web advertising revenues.
The Smooth Streaming upgrade for Silverlight, released as part of Microsoft’s new IIS7 Media Pack software, allows programmers to encode their content in a variety of bit rates and aspect ratios, says Microsoft’s Steve Sklepowich, group manager for Silverlight Media. “Typically, you would do eight to 10 data rates with different configurations,” says Sklepowich.
For Microsoft, partnering with the biggest CDN should provide a boost to Silverlight as it seeks to grab a share in the Web video space from the near-ubiquitous Flash player from Adobe.