Microsoft has announced new features to be delivered in Silverlight 4, the next version of its rich Internet application platform, as well as its plans to release Internet Information Services Media Services 3.0, which enables delivery of interactive, high-definition-quality Live Smooth Streaming.
At the International Broadcasting Conference, which runs Sept.11-15 in Amsterdam, Microsoft will preview the latest developments in Silverlight 4, including native multicast support and support for offline digital rights management (DRM) powered by Microsoft PlayReady technology. In addition, the company announced the release of its IIS Smooth Streaming Transport Protocol and Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) specification under the Microsoft Community Promise, helping to ensure openness and industry interoperability, company officials said.
At the company's booth at IBC, Microsoft and partners such as Envivio, iStreamPlanet, Level 3 Communications and TwoFour Digital will showcase these new developments, as well as highlight how a growing number of customers, including Canal+, France 24, NBC Sports, Sat. 1, ProSieben and TV 2, are adopting IIS Smooth Streaming to enable rich and compelling video experiences.
"Microsoft Silverlight allows us to extend our investment in Windows Media Player and provide more accessibility and simplicity to our users," said Frederic Vincent, business development manager of Canal+, in a statement. "With Silverlight and PlayReady, we can run our Web TV services such as Foot+ on most Internet browsers, as well as PCs and Macs, while maintaining a high level of content security. Canal+ is also very excited about Microsoft's innovative IIS Smooth Streaming technology, which will allow us to deliver an incredible video experience on the Web to our customers."
Microsoft said select broadcasters around the world have used beta versions of Live Smooth Streaming since May 2009 to broadcast some of the world's premier live events. These include the Tour de France and the Roland Garros 2009 International French Open Tennis Tournament on France T??Â«l??Â«visions; the IAAF Athletics World Championships, FINA Swimming World Championships on both France T??Â«l??Â«visions and RAI; the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009 on RAI; and Champions League Soccer on BSkyB; as well as events such as the Michael Jackson Memorial on Sympatico/MSN inMusic and Sky News. In a combined effort with Microsoft, NBC Sports and others, Wimbledon Live delivered more than 6,500 minutes of live and on-demand Smooth Streaming video via a high-definition (HD), interactive online video experience, Microsoft officials said.
"With technologies such as Live Smooth Streaming, we are furthering our commitment to provide cost-effective, scalable solutions to deliver the latest in high-quality, true HD and enhance the way audiences experience online video via Silverlight-based media players," said Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform at Microsoft, in a statement.
IIS Media Services 3.0 and Silverlight 3 together provide a platform that enables customers to deliver high-quality online media experiences, Microsoft said. IIS Media Services 3.0 is an integrated HTTP-based media delivery platform that delivers full HD streaming up to 1080p and provides real-time logging for data analysis. The platform also enables delivery of PlayReady-protected content for both on-demand and Live Smooth Streaming scenarios. Delivery of H.264 and Advanced Audio Coding formats over IIS Smooth Streaming is also enabled in IIS Media Services 3.0.
Meanwhile, in an early preview of Silverlight 4 media-specific features at IBC, Microsoft will showcase the next generation of movie experiences enabled by advanced offline PlayReady DRM and out-of-browser capabilities, Microsoft officials said. These features will enable movie studios and retailers to provide the same rich interactive experiences via digital copy and Internet distribution as consumers get with DVD or Blu-ray. Silverlight 4 will enable movie studios to go beyond these experiences and also offer network-delivered updates, special offers and live events, and extend their relationship with consumers past the single movie purchase.
Microsoft also announced additional tools for its developer community. A beta version of a Smooth Streaming player development kit, which makes it easier for developers to build custom players using templates, will be available with the release of IIS Media Services 3.0. Developers can simplify the production of Silverlight video by taking advantage of the encoding and publishing capabilities in Microsoft Expression Encoder 3, now available as a stand-alone product from the Microsoft Expression Studio suite.
IIS Media Services with Live Smooth Streaming and the Smooth Streaming player development kit will be released within the next 30 days. More information about IIS Media Services and making the switch to Smooth Streaming is available at http://iis.net/media.