The IIS team has just released the first public beta of the Smooth Streaming module for IIS7. This means anyone with Windows Server 2008 can start experimenting with this next generation media delivery technology for Silverlight. We’re aiming for a final release in Q2 this year, which will be licensed for full commercial use. There’s lots of detailed info in the links before, but let me offer my own high-level take on what Smooth Streaming is about and why it matters.
Smooth Streaming adapts streaming to the web instead of trying to adapt the web to streaming
Alex Zambelli explored this concept in the links below, but I love it so much I’m going to reiterate. Smooth Streaming leverages the massive scale of the standards-based http web delivery technologies, instead of trying to define different protocols or requiring a lot of bidirectional communications. The media itself is sent as a series of small files as http requests, so it gets automatically cached by the proxy servers in CDNs, ISPs, and corporate firewalls. And of course can pass through firewalls easily.
Smooth Streaming streams smoothly
The core user experience we’re shooting for is quick starting, fast scrubbing, uninterrupted playback of content as good as the local machine can play at the moment. We switch between bitrates and resolutions basic on available CPU speed, network speed, and window size without any “buffering” messages as long as there’s sufficient bandwidth to deliver the lowest bitrate.
Smooth Streaming is standards based
Smooth Streaming uses the http protocol and the MPEG-4 file format (in its “fragmented” flavor). We’re initially using VC-1 (SMPTE standard) and WMA 10 Pro audio, and will support H.264 and AAC-LC support once Silverlight 3 ships with those codecs. The manifests use XML and SMIL.
Smooth Streaming can be authored today
Expression Encoder 2 (with Service Pack 1 installed) includes full support for authoring on-demand Smooth Streaming content, including all media files and manifests. The Silverlight 2 templates included with SP1, and the underlying Base Player, support Smooth Streaming. Other compression tools will be adding full Smooth Streaming support in future versions.
All the Links
We’ve gone blog-crazy here at Microsoft. Which means that there’s lots of great information coming out of us these days, so it can be kind of hard to find it all. Here’s my list of good Smooth Streaming references and tutorials.
- SmoothHD.com (our joint demo site with Akamai)
Yep, it’s a free beta download for any version of Windows Server 2008. There are free 60-day trial versions of 2008, including a .vhd download.
- Smooth Streaming Beta for 32-bit Windows Server 2008
- Smooth Streaming Beta for 64-bit Windows Server 2008
- Web Platform Installer (single installer for IIS, SQL Server Express, .NET Framework and Visual Web Developer components)
- Trial versions of Windows Server 2008
- Expression Encoder 2 Service Pack 1 (the full Expression Encoder 2 with SP1 installed is needed to author Smooth Streaming content)
Learn IIS7 articles
- Smooth Streaming for IIS 7.0 - Getting Started
- Smooth Streaming for IIS 7.0 - Exploring Bit Rate Changes
- Smooth Streaming for IIS 7.0 - Managing Your Presentations
- Expression Encoder 2 Service Pack 1 – Intro and Multibitrate Encoding (my general overview of Smooth Streaming)
- Encoding Big Buck Bunny for SmoothHD.com (highy nerdy hands-on example… with tables and charts!)
Alex has been doing a great series on multibitrate streaming, adaptive streaming, and Smooth Streaming architecture from a content authoring perspective. They’re great to go through in order
John is an IIS Program Manager who has been intimately involved with Smooth Streaming since its inception.
- Beta Release of Smooth Streaming Now Available
- Smooth Streaming Questions? We’ve Got Answers!
- I’ve seen the future and the future is… Smooth!