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.
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.
Fast Start. Delivers an instant-on playback experience
by eliminating buffering time, whether playing a single piece of
content or switching seamlessly between on-demand clips or
broadcast channels. When a viewer connects to a stream, the first
few seconds of data is sent at a high bit rate, so playback can
begin as soon as possible.
Fast Cache. Provides an always-on playback experience by
streaming content to the cache of Windows Media Player as fast as
the network will allow, reducing the likelihood of playback
interruption due to network issues. The server sends a stream to a
client at as high a bit rate as possible.
Fast Reconnect. Automatically restores live or on-demand
Player/server and server/server connections if disconnected during
a broadcast, ensuring an uninterrupted viewing experience.
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
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 the white paper "Delivering IPTV
with the Windows Media Platform" from the Microsoft Web site.
Advanced Fast Start, Advanced FF/RW, and Play
While Archiving are available only if Windows Media Services 9
Series is running on the following editions of the operating
system: Windows Server 2003, Enterprise Edition, and Windows Server
2003, Datacenter Edition. If you are running Windows Server 2003,
Standard Edition, these features are not supported.