MS spells out stream of things to come

Microsoft today detailed plans for its vision of the future of media streaming.

Peter Bell, Microsoft UK product manager for NetShow and SiteServer, said that the technology it acquired with the purchase of VXtreme announced yesterday, will be incorporated in the Site Server 3.0 Web site management and electronic commerce suite next spring. NetShow, a new version of which was launched yesterday, is likely to end up as a sub-brand of Site Server.

"The most important technology we're getting from VXtreme is the ability to reach a broad audience through support for multiple bit rates," said Bell. "When you encode the stream you don't have to choose the bit rate. It covers modem, cable, intranet, Internet - from 28.8 modems to 10Mbit LANs and beyond - and that affects the size of audience you hit."

Developers of news feeds could for example write the same code for individual modem users as users on corporate intranets; CNN is a current high-profile user of VXtreme. However, he added that streaming is "not a short-term market opportunity" but one that will grow and embrace future communications capabilities such as cable and video-on-demand.

Bell said that the recent deal with Progressive Networks was complementary to the VXtreme acquisition, providing "a unity of streaming protocol and file compatibility" with the dominant streaming media client.

Evidence of Microsoft's increasingly dominant position was clear yesterday as over 30 solution and content partners announced support for the initiatives.