Microsoft wants businesses to upload, share and search for videos with the same ease that consumers distribute and consume content on YouTube and similar platforms.
On Tuesday, the company kicked off a free preview of its Microsoft Stream service.
"Starting today, anyone with a business email address can sign up for the preview in seconds and begin uploading, sharing and tagging videos in their organization," James Phillips, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Business Intelligence Products group, said in a July 18 announcement. "By taking the 'work' out of managing video storage and security, Microsoft Stream enables organizations and their employees to communicate and collaborate with video more easily."
If Microsoft Stream sounds familiar, it's because it bears some big similarities to its existing Office 365 Video service.
Launched in 2014 and powered by Azure Media Services, a cloud-based suite of video transcoding and streaming offerings for broadcasters and video content producers, Office 365 Video shares much of the same DNA as the new service. Stream was inspired by Office 365 Video, said Philips. In the future, both services "will converge, making Stream the de facto video experience in Office 365," he added.
For now, it's business as usual for current Office 365 Video customers. As Stream inches closer to general availability, Microsoft plans to share more details on the impact to Office 365 Video, said Philips.
The sign-up process takes as little as five seconds, claims the software giant. Users can upload and organize their videos into channels using a Web-based drag-and-drop interface. Social features include the ability to follow channels, "like" videos, share them with colleagues and embed them into corporate Webpages.
On the security front, Microsoft is enlisting its Azure Active Directory identity management service to help organizations control who can access their video content on Stream. Naturally, Stream videos can be viewed on PCs, smartphones and tablets.
Over time, Microsoft plans to integrate Stream with Flow, SharePoint and the company's other business applications, said Philips. The software maker also hopes that with the availability of Microsoft Stream APIs (application programming interfaces), an app ecosystem, will sprout up around the service.
"With the announcement of Stream, Microsoft can disrupt the enterprise video space," said Forrester analyst Nick Barber in an email sent to eWEEK. "Millions of users already live inside Office 365 for email and productivity and video is the next logical step."
Once the province of television and entertainment companies, video content has worked its way into all types of businesses.
"Video has become ubiquitous—it's no longer just produced by media and broadcasters; now enterprises have become their own broadcasters," continued Barber. "They need a portal for HR and training, the CEO needs to livestream a quarterly meeting, or the marketing team needs to review collateral. Microsoft Stream wants to be the go-to application for those services and with many of the users already in its ecosystem, it seems likely that they'll get on board."