In another busy week for Microsoft's Azure cloud-computing platform, the company announced a new integration aimed at helping its customers and cloud developers test blockchain-based applications.
"Blockchain technologies will become even easier to build and test using Azure's DevTest Labs currently in preview," Marley Gray, director of Technology Strategy at Microsoft U.S. Financial Services, announced in a Jan. 28 blog post. DevTest Labs is a service used for quickly provisioning Windows- and Linux-based development and test environments on the Azure cloud.
"All Blockchain-related services and partners can now be set up in a lab environment and added as artifacts to the lab as you create it. This exciting development allows for partners and customers to decouple the Blockchain technology from the VM itself and apply these technologies more discretely."
Gray also announced new partners in Microsoft's rapidly expanding Azure Blockchain-as-a-Service ecosystem, including newcomers Netki and MultiChain.
Netki facilitates digital currency transactions with its secure wallet technology. "The Netki Wallet Name Service is an open standard that makes it easy to send digital currency between users or services, interconnecting the entire ecosystem," explained Gray. Meanwhile, MultiChain's technology enables organizations to quickly "design, deploy and operate distributed ledgers," he added.
On Microsoft's cloud-based streaming media front, Amit Rajput, program manager at Microsoft Azure Media Services, announced several new enhancements. Update 1.6.1 for the Azure Media Player (AMP) includes "a 33 percent reduction in size of the AMP scripts and the additional support for hotkeys and a time tip hover for accurate seeking," along with bug fixes, said Rajput in a separate Jan. 27 announcement.
The newly upgraded AMP demo page now includes a diagnostics tab that provides real-time performance data. Within the set-up tab, a new " protection section now allows you to pick and choose which protection type you have dynamically packaged your content with in addition to allowing you to select multiple tokens in case they are different in the case of having both PlayReady and Widevine," said Rajput.
Users can caption subtitle tracks with a click of the Add Tracks button. Additionally, users "can add a poster for testing purposes so you can see how your poster will look," said Rajput. Finally, Microsoft has made distributing AMP changes among users easier. "You can share the demo page with your configuration with others by simply sending them the navigation URL in the address bar or by clicking the code tab and selecting Get share code," he said.
Azure Stack is a software package that enables customers to run Azure-based private and hybrid cloud environments within their own data centers. The coming weeks will see the beginning of new Azure Stack integrations, teased Microsoft in a Jan. 29 announcement. "Also stay tuned for the updated Azure SDK, (which will include PowerShell support and cross-platform CLI [command-line interface] support for Azure Stack) and Visual Studio 2015 support for Azure Stack—these experiences will be coming your way next week too," said the company.