Extending Smooth Streaming Reach

Smooth Streaming has been a pivotal technology of the Microsoft Media Platform since its introduction in IIS Media Services 2.0 in 2009. And though it’s been commonly associated with Silverlight over the years, those familiar with Smooth Streaming architecture and the Smooth Streaming Media Element probably know that the relationship between Smooth Streaming and Silverlight was never an exclusive one. For starters, the Smooth Streaming Protocol Specification and the Protected Interoperable File Format (PIFF) Specification have been public for years. After all, at its heart Smooth Streaming is not much more than a combination of HTTP requests, XML and fMP4 parsing, download heuristics and video/audio decoding. It’s a fairly open, standards-based technology that has very few dependencies on the client platform.

So it should come as no surprise that as popularity of Smooth Streaming grew we started looking into extending the reach of Smooth Streaming (and PlayReady as its premium content companion) to other client platforms and devices too.

First came Smooth Streaming Client for Windows Phone, essentially a variation of Smooth Streaming Client for Silverlight but adapted for the specific features and constraints of the Windows Phone OS.

Next came Smooth Streaming Client Porting Kit, a device and platform independent implementation of Smooth Streaming client that can be ported by licensees to any device and platform. This commercially licensable package contains C++ source, hardware abstraction layer (HAL) and platform abstraction layer (PAL) interfaces, and DRM interfaces designed to plug into the PlayReady Device Porting Kit. The SSPK is primarily targeted at manufacturers of connected TVs, set-top boxes (STB), Blu-Ray players and various other embedded devices.

Late last year Xbox LIVE launched a whole new series of TV and video apps, such as Hulu Plus, YouTube, Comcast Xfinity, VEVO, Verizon FiOS TV and many others. What you probably didn’t know is that over 75% of the new media apps launched on Xbox LIVE are powered by Smooth Streaming and PlayReady. The catalyst for these new experiences is the Xbox LIVE Application Development Kit (ADK) which significantly accelerates development of rich media applications for Xbox 360. At the heart of the ADK are Smooth Streaming Client and MMP Player Framework, specially developed for the Xbox by the IIS Media Services team and our old partner Vertigo Software.

Finally, last month we announced the availability of Smooth Streaming Client SDK (beta) for Windows 8 Consumer Preview, together with a beta of Player Framework for Windows 8 Metro-style Applications. The new SDK and framework allow developers to build Metro-style, touch-enabled apps for Windows 8 (x86/x64/ARM) with support for Smooth Streaming and PlayReady DRM, while utilizing any of the supported development languages and constructs such as HTML5, Javascript, XAML, C# and C++. Make sure to check out this post for a step-by-step guide to building your first Metro media app.

We intend to continue broadening Microsoft Media Platform’s reach in the coming months to other popular platforms such as iOS, Flash and Android too. Over the next several weeks you can expect to see more detailed information published regarding Smooth Streaming Client Porting Kit licensing, MPEG-DASH support and availability of Smooth Streaming Client SDK for iOS.

And of course, stay tuned for exciting new announcements at NAB Show 2012. 😉

About Alex Zambelli

Alex is a Product Manager at Discovery in Bellevue, WA. Prior to his current job he was a Product Manager at Hulu and iStreamPlanet (Turner), and Technical Evangelist for media technologies at Microsoft. He has been professionally involved with development of digital video and streaming technologies since 2002.
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