from a Windows Media server vs. a Web server
You can deliver Windows Media-based content either from a server
running Windows Media Services or from a Web server. However, a
Windows Media server is designed specifically for streaming Windows
Media-based content; a standard Web server is not. If you decide to
use a Web server, be aware of the following differences in the way
the content is delivered, which can affect the playback
The method of sending data differs between a Web server and a
Windows Media server. A Web server is designed to send as much data
as it can, as quickly as possible. This is the preferred method for
sending static images, text, and Web page scripts, but it is not
the best method for streaming digital media. Ideally, the data
packets for streaming media content should be delivered in real
time, not in large bursts, and players should receive packets
immediately before rendering them.
A Windows Media server regulates the delivery of packets
according to feedback information it receives while sending a
stream to a player and according to the configuration of certain
features such as Fast Cache and Fast Start. When a player receives
packets in this way, the presentation is much more likely to be
smooth. Because bandwidth use is controlled, more users can connect
at the same time and still receive streams that are free of
Web servers do not support multiple-bit-rate (MBR) video. When a file
streams from a Web server, the quality of the delivery is not
monitored and the bit rate cannot be adjusted, which can cause the
playback quality to vary during the duration of the stream and can
result in a poor user experience.
Web servers cannot use the preferred delivery protocol for
streaming media, User Datagram Protocol (UDP), so
delivery of a stream is more likely to be interrupted by periods of
silence while the player buffers data.
Web servers do not support live streaming or multicast
Web servers do not support indexed Windows Media files.
(Indexing provides users with a means of fast-forwarding and
rewinding through a file that is streaming.)
A Windows Media server includes built-in monitoring and logging
capabilities with which you can gather valuable information about
your streaming media session and its audience.
There are times when you may prefer to stream
from a Web server—for example, if you plan to offer only a small
amount of content or if you have a site with limited resources. A
Web server can also be used for downloading files that you do not
intend to stream, such as files with a high bit rate that is
intended for local playback only. For more information about
streaming from a Web server, see the Microsoft Web site.