Smooth Streaming is the productized version of technology first used by Microsoft to deliver on-demand video of the 2008 Summer Olympics for NBCOlympics.com. By dynamically monitoring local bandwidth and video rendering performance, Smooth Streaming optimizes content playback by switching video quality in real-time.
Viewers with high bandwidth connections and modern computers can experience full HD 1080p quality streaming, while others with lower bandwidth or older computers receive an appropriate stream for their capabilities. The end result is simple: viewers across the board enjoy a compelling, uninterrupted streaming experience that leads to extended audience engagement and increased revenue opportunities.
Smooth Streaming uses the simple but powerful concept of delivering small content fragments (typically 2 seconds worth of video) and verifying that each has arrived within the appropriate time and played back at the expected quality level. If one fragment doesn't meet these requirements, the next fragment delivered will be at a somewhat lower quality level. Conversely, when conditions allow it, the quality of subsequent fragments will be at a higher level.
To create Smooth Streaming presentations, the same source content is encoded at several quality levels, typically with each level in its own complete file, using a compression tool such as Expression Encoder or a product from one of our many partners. Content is delivered using a Smooth Streaming-enabled IIS origin server. After the IIS origin server receives a request for media, it will dynamically create cacheable virtual fragments from the video files and deliver the best content possible to each client. The benefit of this virtual fragment approach is that the content owner can manage complete files rather than thousands of pre-segmented content files.
Smooth Streaming provides media companies with a better way to make full HD on the web a reality. It offers code-free deployment and simplified content management for content creators and content delivery networks. For content viewers, the improved video viewing experience brings the reliability and quality of HD television to their favorite video websites.
To see Smooth Streaming in action, check out the Experience Smooth Streaming page, where you can simulate different bandwidths and see how Smooth Streaming responds. To learn more, download Smooth Streaming from the links at the top right of this page, and read the Smooth Streaming Technical Overview or the Smooth Streaming Deployment Guide.