How does media streaming work?

Updated: March 30, 2011

Applies To: Windows Home Server 2011

The media streaming feature in Windows Home Server 2011 makes it possible for networked computers and some networked digital media devices to play digital media files that are stored on the home server.

When you turn the media server on, content that you share in the media libraries will be available for play on devices on your network that are capable of receiving streaming media from your server. For example, if the device connected to your server is a computer in your homegroup, the list of media available for streaming will appear in the media library on your computer. You can stream most types of digital media files. Some of the more common types of files that you can stream include:

  • Windows Media formats (.asf, .wma, .wmv, .wm)

  • Audio Visual Interleave (.avi)

  • Moving Pictures Experts Group (.mpeg, .mpg, .mp3)

  • Musical Instrument Digital Interface (.mid, .midi, .rmi)

  • Audio for Windows (.wav)

  • CD Audio Track (.cda)

To play a file, simply locate a song, video, or picture in a shared folder, double-click the file, and the content will stream from the server to your computer and play. For information about how to find and play the digital media files that are stored on the server, see “Search for and play digital media.”

To stream your media, you need the following hardware:

  • A wired or wireless private network.

  • Either another computer on your network or a device known as a digital media receiver (sometimes called a networked digital media player). Digital media receivers are hardware devices connected to your wired or wireless network that you can control using your computer—even if your computer is in another room.


Devices of this type include computers, mobile phones, televisions, extenders for Windows Media Center (including Xbox 360) and other personal electronic devices. For a current list of digital media devices that are compatible with Windows Home Server 2011, see the Windows 7 Compatibility Center (