Redmond recently announced that general availability of Windows Azure Media Services. This brand new service is now available to customers and allows them stream on-demand video to consumers on any platform or device.
This feature was, until now, exclusively available to a select number of developers. In fact, Microsoft boasts that Windows Azure Media Services was used for streaming the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Microsoft’s Scott Guthrie announced the release of this new service in a blog post on its ASP.Net website, which is accompanied by very detailed overview and explanation of features:
“Windows Azure Media Services provides a large set of client player SDKs for all major devices and platforms, and they let you not only reach any device with a format that’s best suited for that device – but also build a custom player experience that uniquely integrates into your product or service.”
The service allows users to upload media which can then be encoded on a wide array of supported formats and then streamed to multiple platforms — from Windows 8, Windows Phone, Xbox, iOS, Android, Flash and HTML5.
Windows Azure Media Services utilizes what Microsoft has labeled “dynamic packaging”, essentially allowing users of the platform to store a single file format, which can be automatically streamed to a number of adaptive protocol formats.
This positions Windows Azure Media Services as a very robust alternative to Amazon’s AWS Cloud Front service, which can also be used to deliver cloud media — though it requires finicky configuration.
Azure Media Services is billed as a “cloud platform for managing and distributing media to any screen anywhere”. Redmond believes the power Windows Azure offers can be used to launch services similar to Netflix or Hulu.
Pricing is not all that simple to understand. Similar to AWS, encoding, streaming and data transfer each come with their own price tag.