Microsoft unveils business-focused, free Stream video service

Microsoft is making available a free preview of another Azure-based, business-focused video service -- called Microsoft Stream -- that will ultimately supplant Office 365 Video.

Microsoft is making available a free preview of Microsoft Stream, a "new business video service that democratizes access to and discovery of video at work".

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Microsoft Stream

Microsoft announced availability of the Stream preview on July 18. Stream is for uploading, sharing, and tagging videos within organizations. Stream ultimately will supplant Microsoft's existing Office 365 Video platform, with Stream becoming "the de facto video experience in Office 365".

What's the difference between Office 365 and Stream? Both Stream and Office 365 Video are built on top of Azure Media Services. Both are video platforms aimed at business users. As far as feature/focus differences go, I've asked but still haven't heard back.

"Our goal is to bring all the capabilities in Office 365 Video to Microsoft Stream," a spokesperson told me. "There will be no changes to O365 Video until Microsoft Stream is generally available."

"Office 365 Video and Microsoft Stream both share a common goal of unlocking the potential of videos to help businesses," the spokesperson added. "During preview, Microsoft Stream and Office 365 Video will co-exist. Our plan is to integrate Microsoft Stream into Office 365 to offer one video solution for businesses -- whether they use Office 365 or not."

More from the spokesperson:

We are committed to the existing Office 365 Video integrations with Office and SharePoint and will be deepening our integrations with Office overtime. Our goal is to build an amazing enterprise video solution that works great stand-alone and is even more amazing when connected to Office 365.

If you are already an Office 365 customer with Enterprise/Academic/Government SKUs, you should continue to use Office 365 Video during this preview period where all your video content will continue to be hosted.

Over time we will be bringing together the experiences of O365 Video and Microsoft Stream. So features in Microsoft Stream that aren't yet in O365 Video will be coming over to O365 Video and features in O365 Video that aren't yet in Microsoft Stream will make their way to Microsoft Stream as well.

Microsoft's goal is for Microsoft Stream to become the de-facto solution in Office, and at that point, all content is expected to be migrated over to Microsoft Stream. Current Office 365 Video users shouldn't lose any content during the migration, officials said.

Stream will integrate with Microsoft PowerApps, Flow, and SharePoint, officials said.

Update: Microsoft officials told TechCrunch that Stream "will leverage more of Microsoft's existing technologies to offer a more consumer-like experience." (Kind of odd, given this is a video service for business users with business email addresses only.) The Stream service may add features like speech-to-text, automatic translations, and support for face-to-face recognition to Stream at some point, as well as the possible addition of live-streaming, officials also told TechCrunch.

Update No. 2 (July 19): I had a chance to ask Sudheer Sirivara, general manager of AppPlat PM, about why Microsoft decided to introduce a second business video platform rather than update Office 365 Video.

In short, the answer is: Microsoft wanted to add a non-Office-365-dependent, freemium version of its video platform to its lineup. But instead of going the Power BI route, where Microsoft added a free Power BI version to the paid one it had in market, officials decided to change the business video UI and name and reintroduce the video platform as Microsoft Stream.

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