IIS Media Services 4 Beta 1 - Encode once & deliver to (more-than) three screens across multiple file formats & protocols

Today begins the next wave of updates to IIS Media Services.  We released our first beta of Media Services 4 which includes the new support for live and on-demand streaming to Apple devices including the iPod, iPhone, and iPad using the same encoded elementary streams that are targeted at your Silverlight clients.  We have also added a number of improvements to IIS Live Smooth Streaming to Silverlight.  In this post, I’ll quickly cover all of the new stuff we released today, point you to our new walkthroughs and give you a preview of the upcoming features and more in-depth walkthroughs we are planning.

IIS Media Services 4 Beta 1- Now with iPhone and iPad streaming support!

IIS Smooth Streaming has been the leading platform for broadcasting live events using adaptive HTTP streaming on the internet.  It was first used to deliver the 2008 Summer Olympics, and more recently was used for the 2010 Winter Olympics, March Madness, and the 2010 French Open. 

The new capabilities of Media Services 4 will extend the reach of these live events to even more devices using the same set of encoded elementary streams.   We can now encode a spectrum of bitrates in H.264 and AAC-LC in IIS Smooth Streaming format, push them to the IIS Server and deliver out to Silverlight clients on Mac, PC and Linux, Windows Phone 7, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Nokia s60, Broadcom and Intel set-top-boxes.   That’s an incredibly wide range of screens to hit with a single set of multi-bitrate streams! IIS Media Services will simply unwrap the incoming fragmented-MP4 containers, extract the encoded H.264 and AAC-LC elementary streams, and re-package them inside MPEG-2 Transport Stream containers for delivery to Apple devices.  This means that you only encode the content once, and IIS handles the “packaging” of that content for distribution to multiple endpoints.  For you Seinfeld fans out there, you can think of this process as “re-gifting” to your Apple friends, although this is definitely not a “label maker”.  I’ll be posting guidance soon on how to broadcast to all of these screens using a range of encoding settings and bitrates.  

Expression Encoder 4 Pro, which launched earlier this week and will be available for purchase at the Microsoft online store, also includes new templates for broadcasting live H.264 streams to IIS Media Services for delivery to multiple device profiles including the iPhone, iPad, and Nokia devices. For an introduction to Live Smooth Streaming with EE4, check out Sam Wookey’s blog post and walkthrough.

New! Transform Manager

In addition we are launching a new feature of IIS Media Services called Transform Manager, which provides simple integrated video encoding and batch conversion of video files to IIS Smooth Streaming format and the MPEG-2 Transport Stream adaptive streaming format supported by Apple devices. Transform Manager also integrates directly with Expression Encoder 4 Pro to allow you to use “watch folders” to queue up multiple encoding jobs on your server and deliver them directly to IIS Media Services 4 web folders as IIS Smooth Streaming presentations, complete with Silverlight player templates. 

Transform Manager can also convert your IIS Smooth Streaming presentations directly into MPEG-2 Transport Streams and .m3u8 manifests for delivering content to Apple devices.  We ship Transform Manager with several example Job Templates and Watch Folder configurations that enable you to drag-and-drop WMV and MP4 files into watch folders (or set up FTP or WebDav on your IIS server to upload content to your watch folders) and Transform Manager will automate the encoding to Smooth Streaming file format using Expression Encoder 4 Pro, transmux the output from EE4 to MPEG-2 Transport stream and create .m3u8 playlists, and then copy your generated media files to a uniquely named IIS web site for immediate playback.

We have also released a new SDK with Transform Manager so that you can write your own plug-in “tasks” that can be used with Transform Manager to support custom actions, third-party encoders, or your own encoding applications.

This alpha release of the Transform Manager feature currently only supports operating on a single IIS server and uses the local Task Scheduler for job management. In our future releases, we will be expanding the capabilities of the scheduler to support scaling-out Transform Manager. 

IIS Smooth Streaming Client 1.0 RTW

Also released today is the IIS Smooth Streaming Client 1.0 RTW. This is the development kit that most of you already refer to as the SSME (Smooth Streaming Media Element). It is the core component that enables Smooth Streaming support for Silverlight clients.  The Silverlight Media Framework 2.0 is built on top of this component.   The new client development kit enables developers and designers to custom Silverlight players from the ground-up.  You can build custom players that support full DVR-style time shifting, live ad insertion, multiple camera angles, closed captioning, and custom metadata tracks. 

If you use the new Silverlight Media Framework (smf.codeplex.com) you get all of theses great features built into an open source player that you can extend upon.  The new SMF 2.0 player has a more modular architecture,  supports Timed Text Markup Language text tracks, support for VAST and MAST, support for the Microsoft Silverlight Analytics Framework and a plug-in API  .

IIS Smooth Streaming Format SDK 1.0 Beta 2

And there is more! The IIS Smooth Streaming Format SDK 1.0 Beta 2 will be released to the web next week. This SDK is provided as a C++ static library for building in support to your own encoder applications for muxing IIS Smooth Streaming and PIFF 1.1 compliant streams, and also delivering to IIS Media Services.  This update includes bug fixes to the Beta 1 features plus the following additional features:

  • Muxing of properly-encoded VC-1 and H.264 video to PIFF 1.1 compliant output for live and On-demand.
  • Creation of PIFF 1.1 compliant manifest files
  • Support for PlayReady sub-sample encryption to support encrypted H.264
  • Multi-language audio muxing support
  • Text-streams to allow for creation of Timed Text Markup Language tracks

Coming soon…

Even with all of these great releases and new features, the team refuse to stop for breath (hey, there is no Summer in Seattle this year anyways, so let’s just keep working on new features!).   Coming later this year you will see the following additional features added to IIS Media Services.

  • The Apple HTTP streaming support will expand to include AES encryption, DVR “sliding window” support and segmented archives similar to the standard Smooth Streaming support in Media Services to bring parity across both features.  We will be doing the work necessary to make sure that everyone can broadcast to all their devices 24/7 if desired.
  • Multicast Smooth Streaming. Yes, it is coming… be patient.
  • PlayReady DRM will be built into IIS Media Services and the Transform Manager to provide easy-to-use and highly robust content protection for live and on-demand Smooth Streaming to Silverlight clients.  You will be able to simply click a check box on your publishing point to enable encrypted Live broadcasts, and Transform Manager will batch-encrypt your on-demand files for use with PlayReady DRM, or the Apple spec supported simple AES encryption (which is not a DRM system, just a wire line encryption – so keep that in mind.)
  • Transform Manager scale-out will be supported through integration with a new scalable scheduler architecture. We will also be expanding our API to support integration with the task editing user interface to allow custom task developers to implement their own task setup and editing user interfaces.   
  • More Walkthroughs!  I’ll be working on expanding our walkthroughs for both the iPhone/iPad broadcasting, Transform Manager API usage, Transform Manager integration with 3rd party encoders, using TTML, multi-language audio support, and new metadata support in Media Services.


Get the new IIS Media Services bits now using the Web Platform Installer link here!

New Walkthroughs:
Transform Manager Walkthrough
Live Broadcasting to iPhone and iPad with IIS Media Services Walkthrough

For more details on this release of IIS Media Services, check out the following links:

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