Microsoft and Akamai Innovate on Consumer Video Experiences Using Silverlight
New high-definition open standards-based video solution to enable higher-quality streaming media delivery over HTTP by adapting video quality on varying consumer connection speeds.
REDMOND, Wash., and CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Microsoft Corp., the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions, and Akamai Technologies Inc., the leader in powering rich media, dynamic transactions and enterprise applications online, today announced plans to enable high-definition (HD) quality experiences on PCs. Akamai will release a beta version of a new service, powered by Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft Silverlight, to deliver rich Internet applications via the world’s largest HTTP edge network.
Microsoft is introducing new Web server technology, called Internet Information Services 7.0 (IIS7.0) Smooth Streaming, that gives consumers instant start-up times and no buffering by adapting the quality of the video stream in real time based upon changing connectivity speed. This enables companies to boost brand awareness and advertising revenues by extending average viewing times. They can also benefit from unprecedented network scalability using distributed HTTP-based Web servers.
“Smooth Streaming is an evolution of proven Silverlight technology that has powered global online events,” said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Division at Microsoft. “Our objective has always been to provide a platform that enables next-generation media experiences on the Web. Together with Akamai, we will take that a step further by offering a consistently superior adaptive streaming experience on a global scale.”
Akamai will be building upon this innovative technology with a new service, Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight, which will be deployed across the company’s globally distributed network to bring a solution with HD scale to media companies worldwide. The service is expected to be available to select Akamai customers in a beta release in early 2009. Akamai AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Silverlight will leverage IIS Smooth Streaming, which offers a simple-to-manage approach for adaptive streaming, and will be an upcoming feature of IIS7 Media Pack. IIS7 Media Pack brings media-specific features such as bit-rate throttling and playlists to Web servers. This powerful solution is enhanced by the compelling experiences and rich interactive applications enabled by the Silverlight player.
“We’ve seen firsthand the growing demand for HD online content among our customer base,” said Tim Napoleon, chief strategist, Digital Media at Akamai. “In a broadcast model, typically the experience is consistent across 100 percent of the viewing audience. The challenge is that capabilities in the online world vary greatly for each user. Adaptive streaming allows the video to adjust to the audience, maximizing each user’s experience. We believe that this technology, combined with an open video player solution that embraces existing development and ad standards, will allow us to offer the scale and reach needed to grow the business of online video.”
“Users expect TV-quality video when they go online; anything less just doesn’t make the grade anymore,” said Will Richmond, broadband video analyst and editor/publisher of VideoNuze. “Especially in the HD era, premium video providers are recognizing that quality is king and as a result are accelerating their shift to more robust delivery infrastructure. And the payoffs are clear: higher-quality video drives longer viewing sessions, greater engagement and improved monetization opportunities.”
A technology preview of the new Akamai service can be found on the Web at http://www.smoothHD.com and will be shown at the Microsoft Silverlight booth at the Digital Hollywood Conference this week in Los Angeles. The companies will also demonstrate how to create Web video using Microsoft Expression Encoder 2 Service Pack 1, which supports IIS Smooth Streaming. A beta release of these services is scheduled to be available in early 2009.
The Akamai Difference
Akamai® (NASDAQ: AKAM) provides market-leading managed services for powering rich media, dynamic transactions, and enterprise applications online. Having pioneered the content delivery market one decade ago, Akamai’s services have been adopted by the world’s most recognized brands across diverse industries. The alternative to centralized Web infrastructure, Akamai’s global network of tens of thousands of distributed servers provides the scale, reliability, insight and performance for businesses to succeed online. Akamai has transformed the Internet into a more viable place to inform, entertain, interact, and collaborate. To experience The Akamai Difference, visit www.akamai.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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