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Streaming Media with Server 2008 

Posted By:  David Tesar 
Publish Date: 5/8/2008

I’ve always been intrigued on the idea of streaming my own music collection from my home server, so I decided to write this post on technology which can make this happen.  If you’re running any version of Server 2008 other than the version for Itanium-based systems, you have the capability of using Windows Media Services and/or IIS7’s Media pack to stream your audio / video (media) content. What’s the difference and which should I use?

Windows Media Services – This enables you to stream media using the “mms” prefix in your player of choice and this method is commonly referred to as a media streaming server. You have the ability to broadcast media or setup on-demand publishing. To make this work, you must install the Media server role and after this download and install media services.

Some key benefits over IIS7 Media pack

  • Stream content using multi-cast
  • Proxy/Cache the stream and other options for bigger scale streaming operations
  • Broadcast media in addition to on-demand playback
  • More efficient utilization of network bandwidth by adjusting to network conditions

File formats supported : .asf, .wma, .wmv, .mp3 (with use of the MP3 media parser plug-in & doesn’t support VBR files), .jpg, .nsc, .wsx

Media Pack for IIS7– This enables you to stream media using a method referred to as progressive download (or using a web server), This means the media is downloaded to the client machine, playing via some type of a client such as Windows Media Player, and often beginning to play before the file is completely downloaded. This method only allows you to setup on-demand playback.

The media pack includes two components: Bit Rate Throttling and Web Playlists; both of which must be installed separately on top of IIS7.

Benefits over Windows Media Services

  • Additional file formats officially supported for .avi, .flv, .mov, .rm, .mp4, and .rmvb with throttling, but any file format could potentially work.
  • Easily push out the configuration using the shared hosting capabilities of IIS7
  • Granularly configure bit rates for specific files/folders
  • Delegate permissions for others to modify the settings for specific files/folders

File formats supported: .asf, .avi, .flv, .mov, .mp3, .mp4, .rm, .rmvb, .wma, .wmv.

Conclusion: If you have a very large amount of content you want to stream, then you’ll definitely want to use Windows Media Services due to the options available to scale and save bandwidth. However, IIS7’s media pack may be the right option for you if you’d like to stream the additional file formats and gain all of the benefits of being integrated with IIS7. For another great comparison between the two media streaming methods, see Chris Knowlton’s blog post.

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IIS7 Media Pack - Bit Rate Throttling
IIS 7 Media Pack – Web Playlists