Microsoft Announces Windows Azure Media Services

by STB Blogger

Introducing Windows Azure Media Services

At the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Show in Las Vegas today, Microsoft announced Windows Azure Media Services, a new set of Windows Azure-based services that is designed to make creating, managing and delivering media to any device much easier. Windows Azure Media Services is a comprehensive media platform that offers a set of ready-to-use media technologies to help content providers and media partners provide digital content to customers in the format they want, when they want it. With support for Microsoft Smooth Streaming, HTTP Live Streaming and Flash media formats, media solutions can be distributed to almost any connected device, such as Xbox 360, Windows Phone and Windows-based PCs, to non-Microsoft platforms such as smart TVs, set-top boxes, and MacOS, iOS and Android devices.  Consumer demand for viewing media online on any available device continues to grow – our internal research shows that over one third of Internet traffic is currently devoted to video consumption and we expect that to grow to 80% by 2015. Yet, the process for content providers and broadcasters to produce and distribute media has become much more expensive and complex and no one vendor provides a single service for customers and partners to create and manage their solutions.

Windows Azure Media Services helps companies create or enhance their existing media solutions, drive innovation and enable new business opportunities. Much of this technology includes cloud-based versions of the existing Microsoft Media Platform, which has been used for everything from simple on-demand training videos to the world’s largest live sporting events such as the Super Bowl, FIFA World Cup and Wimbledon. The services are pre-built and ready-to-use, and include a broad set of Microsoft and third party technologies so customers and partners have one place to easily create, distribute and manage customized comprehensive media solutions. Those media solutions can then be distributed across a broad array of connected devices, such as Microsoft Xbox and Windows PCs and Windows Phones to non-Microsoft platforms such as connected TVs, set-top boxes, and MacOS, iOS and Android devices.

Enabling a Partner Ecosystem with Windows Azure Media Services

Microsoft also announced today they are working with Akamai and delatrae to deliver high definition streaming video of the London 2012 Olympic Games to multiple countries. The Olympic Games produce a high volume of coverage, which will be viewed by millions of fans, in multiple countries worldwide across several time zones and connected devices. It will be the first time a live event of this scale will be hosted and broadcast from a public cloud service, helping broadcasters automatically scale their coverage to consumers.

Broadcasts like the Olympics wouldn’t be possible without a comprehensive set of pre-built partner and Microsoft solutions available on Windows Azure Media Services that customers can choose from to build and manage their media assets. These include: ingest services from Aspera; content encoding from Digital Rapids and Dolby; content protection from BuyDRM and Civolution; and video-on-demand streaming from Wowza Media Services. In addition, Windows Azure Media Services enables full-service media companies like iStream Planet and Movideo to host and offer complete workflow solutions to customers.

Customers can visit to sign up for the preview of Windows Azure Media Services. For more information about Windows Azure Media Services, visit the Microsoft Cloud Virtual Pressroom to view the press release as well as several supporting partner press releases, and visit the Windows Azure blog.