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Microsoft's Enterprise Streaming Video Service Previewed

Microsoft on Monday opened up a new video sharing portal called "Microsoft Stream," which lets users watch videos on "any device, anytime." This service is designed for use by organizations and can be tried for free as a preview.

Users get personal pages and they can drag and drop videos into the portal to add them. Machine learning and hashtags are used to make it easier to find videos stored on the Stream service. Videos can be shared via e-mail links. Microsoft is promising that there are security features, too, via the Azure Active Directory service, to protect access to corporate content.

Replacing Office 365 Video
Stream is based on Microsoft's current Office 365 Video service, but Microsoft already is describing Stream as its future flagship video service going forward.

"Microsoft Stream builds upon the learnings and success of Office 365 Video, and over time the two experiences will converge, making Stream the de facto video experience in Office 365," explained James Phillips, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Business Intelligence Products Group, in a blog post.

The company is promising that it won't change its current Office 365 service during the time period in which the Stream preview is available.

Corporate video sharing might not seem like a big thing, but Microsoft's announcement came with a lot of vision talk. Microsoft sees Stream as potentially being "transformative" for organizations:

"This is only the start," Phillips stated. "We believe video is going to be truly transformative in the workplace. We see video being a core content type across all solutions we use at work today."

Future Improvements
Phillips provided a few reasons why Microsoft thinks its future Stream service will have such an effect on organizations. Users will be able to search for videos using metadata. Microsoft also is working on enabling "audio transcription and face detection" within videos.

Stream also will get integrated with business applications. Phillips specifically pointed to integration with "PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, SharePoint and other line of business applications." PowerApps and Flow are still somewhat new, with previews rolled out in April. PowerApps is Microsoft's template-driven app creation toolset for business workers, while Flow lets users concatenate the workflows of various services.

Phillips promised a role for Microsoft's partners in tapping Stream APIs in their applications, which then can be sold through the Microsoft AppSource portal.

IT departments will have some control over the Stream service, Microsoft is promising. They can use the Azure Active Directory service to specify the groups that can watch certain videos, for instance.

And when it comes to watching videos, Microsoft is claiming to have the best playback with Windows 10 and the Microsoft Edge browser combination. A Microsoft blog post claimed last week that Edge saves on a machine's battery power and supports a maximum resolution of 1080 pixels compared with Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera browser support for 720 pixels max.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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