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 Senior Product Manager at Hulu in Seattle, WA. Prior to his current job he was a Product Manager at iStreamPlanet (Turner) and Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Media Platform at Microsoft Corporation. He specializes in video streaming, adaptive HTTP streaming, video compression, and video processing best practices.
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6 Responses to Extending Smooth Streaming Reach

  1. Marc-André says:

    Could you give a link to the Smooth Streaming Client Porting Kit? thanks

  2. Therese says:

    The price of licensing for the porting kit makes it impossible for small shops to afford. As you know I have been looking at this, but I do not have that kind of capital to even consider it. And I won’t hand over my idea to an angel investor just to get the funds, so I am forced to go a very different direction for a product I have been working on for quite some time.

  3. We are looking at bidding port of the Smooth Streaming Client to a MIPS big endian platform. Can you tell me if the Client architecture is little endian and/or if the Client has been run/tested on a big endian platform?

    • Hi Jack,
      Smooth Streaming Client Porting Kit (SSPK) works with both little endian and big endian, based on the feedback we’ve received from customers.

  4. Hello.

    Thanks for the article and many others, big fan.

    The reason I bother you is to ask for help. I spent a month now trying to purchase the SSPK license in vain. The email address mentioned at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/mediaplatform/sspk.aspx keeps silence. I tried to get any information from our corporative MSDN and volume licensing contacts and did not get anything.

    Could you give a hint on how to get any contact regarding the SSPK licensing please?

    Best regards,