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Introduction to Windows Media Services 9 Series

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A player that connects through broadband networks starts playing the contentEasy-to-useadministration tools now simplify server administration tasks.

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series

Microsoft Corporation

    Published: March 2005

Abstract

    Microsoft? Windows Media? Services 9 Series is an optional component in Microsoft Windows

    Server 2003, Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, and Datacenter Edition. This document describes the latest features of Windows Media Services 9 Series.

Microsoft? Windows? Server 2003 White Paper

    This is a preliminary document and may be changed substantially prior to final commercial release of the software described herein The information contained in this document represents the current view of Microsoft Corporation on the issues discussed as of the date of publication. Because Microsoft must respond to changing market conditions, it should not be interpreted to be a commitment on the part of Microsoft, and Microsoft cannot guarantee the accuracy of any information presented after the date of publication.

    This document is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT.

    Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), or for any purpose, without the express written permission of Microsoft Corporation. Microsoft may have patents, patent applications, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property rights covering subject matter in this document. Except as expressly provided in any written license agreement from Microsoft, the furnishing of this document does not give you any license to these patents, trademarks, copyrights, or other intellectual property.

    ? 2005 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows, Windows Logo, Windows NT, Visual C++, Visual C#, Visual Basic, Jscript and PowerPoint are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.

    The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

    Microsoft? Windows? Server 2003 White Paper

Contents

    Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 1 Deliver Streaming or Preexisting Content ................................................................................. 1 Included In This Document ...................................................................................................... 1 Fast Streaming .......................................................................................................................... 2 Fast Start ................................................................................................................................. 2

    Buffering Data ...................................................................................................................... 2

    The Fast Start Experience .................................................................................................... 2 Fast Cache .............................................................................................................................. 2 Fast Recovery ......................................................................................................................... 3 Fast Reconnect ....................................................................................................................... 3 Dynamic Content Delivery ........................................................................................................ 4 Server-Side Playlists ................................................................................................................ 4

    Using Server-side Playlists ................................................................................................... 4 Advertisements ........................................................................................................................ 4 Edge Delivery .......................................................................................................................... 5 Industrial Strength .................................................................................................................... 6 Built-in Security ........................................................................................................................ 6 Real-time Monitoring ................................................................................................................ 6 Administration .......................................................................................................................... 6 IPTV support .............................................................................................................................. 7 Extensible Platform ................................................................................................................... 8 Summary ................................................................................................................................... 9 Related Links ........................................................................................................................... 10

Introduction

    Microsoft Windows Media Services 9 Series is the server component of the Windows Media 9 Series platform, and works in conjunction with Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media Player to deliver audio and video content to clients over the Internet or an intranet. These clients might be other computers or devices that play back the content using a player, such as Windows Media Player, or they might be other computers running Windows Media Services (called Windows Media servers) that are proxying, caching, or redistributing content. Clients can also be custom applications that have been developed by using the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK).

    Deliver Streaming or Preexisting Content

    Windows Media Services can deliver a live stream or preexisting content, such as a digital media file. If you are planning to stream live content, you would configure a broadcast publishing point and then connect to encoding software, such as Windows Media Encoder, that is capable of compressing a live stream into a format supported by the server. You can also stream preexisting content that has been encoded by Windows Media Encoder, Microsoft Producer for PowerPoint? 2002, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Media Player, or many other third-party encoding programs. You stream preexisting content from an on-demand publishing point. Sample broadcast and on-demand publishing points are provided by default.

    Included In This Document

    This document introduces you to the latest features of Windows Media 9 Series in Windows Server 2003. It is arranged as follows:

    ; Fast Streaming

    ; Dynamic Content Delivery

    ; Industrial Strength

    ; Extensible Platform

    ; Related Links

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 1

Fast Streaming

    Fast Streaming refers to a set of features in Windows Media Services that significantly improves the quality of the streaming experience. Fast Streaming is based on the latest technologies and delivers compelling audio and video content over a variety of networkseven when network connections are

    unreliable. Fast Streaming is possible because of these four components:

    ; Fast Start

    ; Fast Cache

    ; Fast Recovery

    ; Fast Reconnect

    Fast Start

    Fast Start provides an instant-on playback experience with no buffering delaywhether playing a single

    piece of content, or switching between on-demand clips or broadcast channels.

    Buffering Data

    Before it can start playing content, Windows Media Player must buffer a certain amount of data. When streaming to clients who use Windows Media Player for Windows XP or a later version of the player, you can use Fast Start to provide data directly to the buffer at speeds higher than the bit rate of the content requested. This enables users to start receiving content more quickly. After the initial buffer requirement is fulfilled, on-demand and broadcast content streams at the bit rate defined by the content stream.

    The Fast Start Experience

    Using Fast Start provides a better experience for users when playing back your content. Users can fast-forward and rewind content without additional delay and rebuffering. A player that connects through broadband networks starts playing the content more quickly, making the experience much more like viewing a television program or listening to a radio broadcast. Content delivered from your server by using server-side playlists switches smoothly and seamlessly between content items. Additionally, the pre-buffering of data makes the player resistant to playback errors due to lost packets or other network issues.

    Fast Cache

    Fast Cache provides an always-on playback experience by streaming content to the Windows Media Player cache as fast as the network will allow, reducing the likelihood of an interruption in play due to network issues.

    For example, using Fast Cache, the server can transmit a 128-kilobits-per-second (Kbps) stream at 700 Kbps. The stream is still rendered in Windows Media Player at the specified data rate, but the client is able to buffer a much larger portion of the content before rendering it. This allows the client to handle variable network conditions without a perceptible impact on the playback quality of either on-demand or broadcast content.

    This ability is useful in the following situations:

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 2

; When the available network bandwidth of the client exceeds the required bandwidth of the contentfor

    example, clients that use a cable modem, DSL connection, or corporate intranets. ; When the network connectivity is intermittent or has high latencyfor example, wireless networks.

    ; When the quality of the content received is of paramount importancefor example, businesses that

    provide pay-per-view movies.

    Fast Recovery

    Fast Recovery works in conjunction with Forward Error Correction (FEC) to provide redundant packets of information to clients that are using wireless connections. Providing redundant packets ensures that no data is lost as a result of connectivity disruptions. Because of FEC, Windows Media Player can usually recover lost or damaged data packets without having to request that the data be resent by the Windows Media server.

    In environments that are subject to latency problems, such as satellite networks and other wireless networks, this process of receiving data is much more efficient. And it's easy to specify the amount of error correction data transmitted per span of data sent using the Windows Media Services user interface.

    Fast Reconnect

    Fast Reconnect automatically restores live or on-demand player-to-server and server-to-server connections if disconnected during a broadcast. This ensures an uninterrupted viewing experience. If the client was connected to an on-demand publishing point, the client restarts playback at the point at which the connection was lost by synchronizing itself with the content timeline. If the content includes video, the client estimates the approximate video frame at which the connection was lost. If the content is indexed, this estimate is more accurate. If the client is connected to a broadcast publishing point, the client reconnects to the broadcast in progress. Depending on the content, the user may experience a gap in the broadcast.

    Fast Reconnect can be used with clients that connect through any of the default connection protocols (MMS, HTTP, and RTSP). Fast Reconnect is available for both broadcast and on-demand streaming.

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 3

Dynamic Content Delivery

    With Windows Media Services 9 Series, you can customize the distribution of your content using server-side playlists and advertisements. Once you've customized your content, it's easy to distribute it to the edge of the Internet by stringing servers together using the latest protocols and cache/proxy solutions.

    Server-Side Playlists

    The Windows Media server-side playlist is based on the Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) 2.0 standard. It is a robust mechanism for assembling content for playback on personal computers and portable devices. Both broadcast and on-demand publishing points, can stream content from a playlist that executes on the server. A server-side playlist can contain live or preexisting content and be delivered using unicast or multicast transmission.

    Windows Media Services fully supports the application of business rules and industry regulations for playlists, including compliance with Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) guidelines.

    Using Server-side Playlists

    Here are a few examples of what you can do with server-side playlists:

    ; Stream an infinite sequence of content, repeat content, or set durations for content. ; Stream content to devices such as handheld personal computers, or set-top boxes that don't support

    client-side playlists.

    ; Insert advertisements, or wrap site branding or sponsor information around your content. ; Interrupt content for ads or emergency announcements.

    ; Use ASP or CGI scripts to dynamically display ads with each pass through the playlist. ; Switch between live and stored streams with no noticeable delay on the client side. ; Dynamically change and save playlists, or build playlists on the fly based on user profiles or

    preferences.

    ; Stream content from a variety of sources, including Windows Media Encoder or another server. ; Nest playlists within one another.

    Advertisements

    Streaming advertisements is a great way to generate revenue for your Web site. Windows Media Services integrates with third-party ad servers to enable you to use advertising in the following ways: ; Place ads at the beginning and end of your playlist, or at any point within the playlist. ; Dynamically change the ads that you show based on national, regional, local, or other demographic

    information.

    ; Personalize ads based on information you gather from cookies or other data gathering tools.

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 4

    ; Overlay ads to comply with rebroadcast requirements, such as those outlined by the American

    Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

    ; Log ad data, such as number of ads played in a particular broadcast or number of users who watched

    the entire ad.

    Edge Delivery

    To ensure that your content gets where it needs to go when it needs to be there, Windows Media Services provides the following features:

    ; New cache/proxy support enables developers to easily build streaming cache/proxy solutions and

    control the customization and extension of native cache and proxy policies. Cache/proxy solutions

    conserve network bandwidth, decrease network-imposed latency, and decrease the load on Windows

    Media origin servers.

    ; Improved protocol support between servers, including: Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) and

    Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Support for new client protocols and standards includes: RTSP,

    HTTP version 1.1, Internet Group Management Protocol (IGMP) version 6, and Internet Protocol (IP)

    version 6.

    ; Flexible distribution between servers using User Datagram Protocol/Transmission Control Protocol

    (UDP/TCP).

    ; Interoperability with Windows Media Services version 4.1 for streaming in mixed environments.

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 5

Industrial Strength

    Windows Media Services 9 Series is now more scalable, reliable, and secure than ever, enabling streaming for the largest enterprises and content delivery networks.

    Built-in Security

    Industrial strength security is part of Windows Media Services. Authentication and authorization mechanisms ensure secure transfer of data from encoder to server, server to server, and client to server. You'll also find support for HTTP Digest and for digital rights management that ensures on-the-wire and persistent client-side security.

    Real-time Monitoring

    Real-time monitoring has been improved significantly. Whether you use Windows Performance Monitor or a Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) console to keep track of your server's performance, information is available, thanks to 72 performance and SNMP counters that are installed automatically. Administration

    Administering Windows Media Services has never been easier. With three different administration tools, you can administer your Windows Media Server in virtually any environment:

    ; The Windows Media Services snap-in for Microsoft Management Console (MMC) is a brand new, full-

    featured interface that has been completely redesigned to simplify your server administration tasks. And

    new wizards ease setup and configuration of common management activities.

    ; Windows Media Services Administrator for the Web, an HTML 3.2-based interface, is a brand new way

    to administer your server when you're not in the office, or when you want to administer Windows Media

    Services through a firewall or low-bandwidth network.

    ; The command-line enables you to use scripts to administer your Windows Media server.

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 6

IPTV support

    Advances in networking technology, digital media, and codecs have made it possible for broadband service providers to begin streaming live and on-demand television to homes and offices over their high-speed Internet Protocol (IP) networks. The Windows Media platform (Windows Media Encoder, Windows Media Services, and Windows Media Player) can be used to provide the framework for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) systems.

    In addition to the Fast Streaming features described earlier, the following features in Windows Media Services make it ideal for delivering a high-quality experience to IPTV viewers:

    ; Unicast, multicast, video on-demand (VOD), and broadcast. Windows Media Services can deliver

    broadcast and on-demand streams, using unicast and multicast protocols.

    ; Intelligent streaming. When digital media is streamed, the Player detects network conditions and sends

    feedback to the Windows Media server, which then adjusts the properties of the stream to maximize

    quality. The highest-quality stream is delivered to the viewer, regardless of network conditions. Typically,

    intelligent streaming makes use of multiple-bit-rate streams. However, the server can also use stream

    thinning as a way to deliver a quality stream over a saturated network.

    ; Advanced Fast Start. Adds to Fast Start capabilities by allowing the Player to begin playing content as

    soon as its buffer receives a minimum amount of data, further reducing the amount of time a user has

    to wait to begin receiving the stream.

    ; Advanced FF/RW. Improves fast-forward and rewind ("trick mode") functionality for the video portion of

    encoded files and stabilizes network bandwidth availability by smoothing the rate at which data is sent.

    Potential server performance bottlenecks are reduced because the server must read less presentation

    data from the source content disk, while delivering a seamless experience to clients. ; Play While Archiving. Archived files can be made available for on-demand requests or rebroadcast,

    even before a broadcast that is being archived has finished.

    For more information about using the Windows Media platform to create IPTV solutions, download Delivering IPTV with the Windows Media Platform.

    Technical Overview of Windows Media Services 9 Series 7

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