Google Widevine, Apple ProRes Come to Microsoft Azure Media Services

Microsoft adds support for Google's digital-rights management tech and Apple's video codec to its cloud-based streaming service as part of this week's updates to Azure.

Microsoft Azure Media Services

Azure Media Services, Microsoft's cloud-based media creation, management and delivery platform, is embracing technologies from some of the company's fiercest rivals as it strives to stream video to practically every device.

"We are pleased to announce Azure Media Services now offers the ability to protect both Video-On-Demand (VOD) and Live Streams with Widevine Modular DRM [digital-rights management] technology," Mingfei Yan, senior program manager of Microsoft Azure Media Services, said in a Sept. 10 announcement. "Widevine protection, together with Microsoft PlayReady DRM packaging capability, now enables you to reach even more end points with protection for premium content using a single streaming end point in Azure Media Services."

Google Widevine dates back to late 2010 when the search giant acquired the technology to protect YouTube content. Azure customers can now set up a Widevine license server with the help of three partners, namely Axinom, castLabs and EZDRM.

When it comes to protecting copyrighted content, Microsoft is taking an all-encompassing approach, according to Yan. The company "is embracing international standard MPEG-DASH streaming with Common Encryption (CENC) and multiple-DRM, in order for your content to be played across devices and platforms," she revealed. "Azure Media Services platforms allow you to encrypt your stream only once, apply different DRM headers and our player could decrypt the same file using different DRM systems based on the capability of the platform."

On the video format front, Azure Media Services has expanded its codec support to include Apple's high-resolution ProRes codec.

"In addition to dozens of other source video formats already supported by the platform, you can now also upload your QuickTime source video files that use Apple ProRes or other codecs," Anil Murching, senior program manager of Azure Media Services, wrote in a blog post. "Once securely stored in the cloud, you can then use our Media Encoder Standard option to perform high-quality cloud-based transcoding."

Separately, Murching also announced that customers can now edit live streams with Media Encoder Standard. With the latest version of the Azure Media Services Explorer (AMSE) tool, users can create sub-clips and MP4 archives, he said. A walk-through of the process is available here.

Cloudy SharePoint Server 2016 Testing, IaaS Backup General Availability

Following last month's release of the SharePoint Server 2016 Preview, Microsoft wants to make it easier for businesses to evaluate the new software. "To make this preview easy to install and test, the SharePoint product team created a new Azure virtual machine gallery image with SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview and its prerequisites pre-installed," Joe Davies, senior content developer for Microsoft Azure Documentation, said in a statement. "The image contains a complete installation of SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview that expires on February 23, 2016."

Finally, Microsoft's recently beefed-up Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) virtual machine backup service is now generally available, Trinadh Kotturu, a Microsoft Cloud and Enterprise program manager, announced on Sept. 10. The release includes improved service-level agreement, PowerShell scripting support and availability across more territories, he said.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...