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Streaming live vs. prerecorded content

Windows Media Services can be used to stream either live or prerecorded content. However, there are some differences in how you should approach developing a streaming solution depending on whether the content is live or prerecorded.

Live content

You can obtain live content in several different ways. You can connect a live capture device such as a microphone or digital camcorder to a computer that is running an encoder, such as Windows Media Encoder, and has a network connection to the Windows Media server. You can also connect other digital media playback devices such as video and CD players to the encoding computer in the same fashion to create a live broadcast of recorded material.

Normally, you will stream live content as a broadcast instead of as an on-demand stream because the user cannot control the playback of live content. In addition, network connections between the encoder and the server should have an allocated amount of bandwidth that cannot be interrupted by other network traffic.

Additionally, the system is less able to recover from streaming errors during a live broadcast because the content is only in the buffer memory of the server for a short amount of time. You can use forward error correction to provide error correction during playback without forcing the player to request error correction information from the server.

If you want your content to be available to users after the broadcast ends, consider archiving the broadcast so you can either rebroadcast the content or provide it on demand.

Prerecorded content

Prerecorded content is the easiest type of content to manage and set up. It typically takes the form of pre-encoded digital audio or video files that can be rendered using a player, such as Windows Media Player. You can stream a single file or several files, or you can create a playlist file that organizes your content into a cohesive user experience.

If your prerecorded content is stored in a network source rather than on the local server, verify that the server has access to the network and can retrieve the content in a timely manner. Typically, this is not a concern because the server can retrieve prerecorded content at a high data rate because the server does not have to render the content.

When streaming prerecorded content you should decide what type of user experience you want to create. Prerecorded content can be streamed using both on-demand and broadcast publishing points.

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