Microsoft Stream

 

Back in July we launched or first preview release of Microsoft Stream. I hope you have had the chance to try out the product, and kick the tires a bit.  It’s very simple to test it out. If you have an organizational or work email, you just have to log into the site at : http://stream.microsoft.com and you will be signed up in only a few seconds. You can even invite your co-workers to participate quickly during sign-up.

As one of the most consumed and shared content types on the internet, video is increasingly an important part of our personal lives, and our team believes that video can – and should – be just as impactful in the workplace.

With our preview release of Stream, we are delivering the following features and capabilities that make video management and sharing within an organization easy, collaborative and social:

  • Sign up in seconds: Get started with Microsoft Stream in as few as five seconds with easy signup and no credit card requirements.
  • Easily upload and organize your video: With easy drag and drop capabilities, upload your videos and organize them by either starting a channel or contributing to a channel based on team, group, topic etc.
  • Discover relevant content: Enhanced content discovery through “trending” videos powered by machine learning, as well as search by hashtag, most liked videos and other key search terms.
  • Watch anywhere, on any device, anytime: View videos in Microsoft Stream on all your devices from anywhere, anytime.
  • Secure video management: Manage who views your video content by determining how widely to share within your organization, and to what channels. Secure application access is enabled by Azure Active Directory, a recognized leader in identity management systems, to protect sensitive corporate content.
  • Follow what matters: Follow channels to see content you want in your Microsoft Stream homepage.
  • Engage with content: Socialize videos by sharing via email, “Like” your favorites and embed videos to webpages within your organization

 

We are working hard to build out a new community around Microsoft Stream, and encourage everyone to participate in our Community Forum where you can quickly post questions and get answers directly from our product team members.  You can also vote for and suggest your own ideas on how to improve the Stream product.  We are listening very closely to this feedback and each sprint we take this feedback very seriously and work hard to ship exactly what you are asking for.  Visit our community pages here, and see what others are already saying and asking for.

As an example of some of the new features that we are working on, I am actively building out more complete video accessibility features for Stream.  This will enable enterprise content creators to meet the needs of people who have disabilities such as those who may be deaf or hard of hearing or vision-impaired. 

A key part of any good enterprise solution is to be inclusive of all users, regardless of disabilities.  Personally, it is very rewarding to see this as a priority for Microsoft, and for our own team,  to deliver on the best possible experience of accessible video.  In our first release, we provide a simple way to upload a closed caption file using the WebVTT file format.   In upcoming releases, we are adding in additional support for multiple language subtitling, alternate audio tracks, and audio descriptions for the vision impaired.

In addition we are continually making improvements to the experiences within Stream. One of the most popular requests we received from IT managers was more Administrative control. We are quickly adding more IT management features to the product that will meet the demands of any IT admin that needs to control usage of Microsoft Stream in their company.

Many of our preview users wanted to know what was going on with Office Video and why we were releasing Microsoft Stream now.  Vishal Sood (Principal Product Manager for Microsoft Stream) posted a great blog post and video along with Mark Kashman (Product Marketing Manager for Office & Sharepoint) explaining our longer term plans for combining Microsoft Stream with Office Video.  Check out the blog post, Q&A and video here on our team blog.

Also, once you have created your own Stream account, read through my 3-part series on how to create content for Microsoft Stream.  In the series, I provide a detailed overview of how we went about creating our own “how-to” videos that are the first videos that you see when you log into the product. 

Part 1- Creating How-To Videos for Stream – Writing Scripts

Part 2- Creating How-To Videos for Stream – Recording

Part 3 – Creating How-To Videos for Stream – Editing and Captions

 

Also, check out Anil Murching’s (Sr. PM for Encoding in Azure Media Services) blog post on how we made encoding and processing seem so blazingly fast in Microsoft Stream. We spent a lot of time optimizing the encoding path and using the publicly available backend of Azure Media Services to generate thumbnails, proxies, and multi-bitrate streaming files quickly for users of stream.  Our goal with to be as fast (if not better) than Vimeo and YouTube for comparable duration files.  Tell us what you think!

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