Hosting Videos on Windows Azure

This is going to be a series of long posts. With Silverlight Streaming ( being discontinued, I thought I’d write up the detailed steps required to host videos using Windows Azure. Since many people who host videos using Silverlight Live Streaming are not technical or development-inclined and rely on the Expression Encoder and Windows Live Writer plug-ins to automate the publishing process, I wrote these posts to suit that audience. In other words, if you can read, understand and follow the steps below, you will be able to host videos on Windows Azure. So don’t be put off by the length and wordiness of these posts – I tried to be explicit to the point of stating the obvious!

Please note that despite its name, Silverlight Streaming was in fact delivering content through progressive downloads. The Azure model is no different. If you are looking for a true streaming approach (e.g. Smooth Streaming), you will need to look at one of our CDN partners.

There are four posts:

  1. Provisioning Windows Azure – how to sign up for and set up a Windows Azure subscription.

  2. Setting up Windows Azure for video storage – how to create a storage account.

  3. Creating and publishing a Silverlight video to Windows Azure – how to use Expression Encoder to encode and publish a video to Windows Azure.

  4. Embedding a Silverlight video in a bloghow to use Windows Live Writer to embed a Silverlight video hosted on Windows Azure in your blog.

Once you have completed the steps in all four posts, you should be able to embed a Silverlight video player in a blog post like the one below:


Credit for all of this goes to a number of people including Saeed Akhter in the Windows Azure team, James Clarke in the Expression team and Tim Heuer. All I’ve done is to synthesize the information that they already put out there.

Comments (9)
  1. sportstv says:

    David, i want to thank you your post has been extremely helpful in setting up the azure service. i have followed your directions to a tee and am through the publish step flawlessly. I do have a question, after encoder published it gives me the option to preview through encoder and it returns an error message. so im not sure if the publish worked. i am still in the process of getting my hosting service to do the Cname reference and then verifying through azure, in order to point to my web site, so i still have a day or so before once all that is done and i can see if it works on my site but it still seems that something is not right and i should be able to see a preview through encoder.

    any advice would be much appreciated,

    again thanks for all the help


  2. dsayed says:

    Larry – are you referring to the preview that Encoder pops up (essentially, a locally hosted Silverlight app) or the preview in the publishing section of the Encoder UI?

    Assuming you have a publishing point setup on Azure, you should be able to see the published player immediately. If you have activated the CDN functionality, try to hit the non CDN publishing point, since I have found that it can take some time for the content to propagate to the CDN point.

  3. sportstv says:

    i get this error when i try to preview both the CDN address or the original address on the azure site. "Line :84

    Char: 13

    error: unhandled error in silverlight application

    code: 4004

    category: managedruntimeerror

    message: System invalid operation exception [net_ui_Notabsolute]"

    when i run locally in my browzer local on my computer it runs fine.

  4. sportstv says:

    Figured it out, i was encoding the video clips as smooth streaming which i guess azure does not support, when i re-encode as H.264 everything publishes fine.  Thanks for your help.


  5. BJ says:

    Very clean set of step-by-step instructions.  Thank you.

    I foolowed them completely with no problems until I attempt to Preview the video.  In both the orgian and CDN links I get "The webpage cannot be found."

  6. Beau says:

    Great stuff!

    Any plans for Azure to support the storage of true  smooth streams / live smooth streams (not just progressive downloads) to enable us to record from Expression Encoder and publish directly to Azure live?

    Just point the silverlight player at an Azure hosted ISML file and BAM!

  7. <a href="">Streaming Silverlight</a> says:

    Although I was more a fan of using <a href="">Silverlight Streaming</a>, I do appreciate this great guide on hosting videos on widows azure. Keep up the great work. Will be visiting this website regularly for other great information on hosting videos using windows azure.

  8. Live streaming of events says:

    We have a church service and want to stream it out as HD 1080p quality is this something this SDK would enable to do? As I know silverlight through netflix allows HD content. Could this be done on a live stream? What would be the model for such a thing? We stream to my cloud app and then it servers it out immediately?

    Just wanted conceptually and idea if that is possible and what the basic design would be.

  9. dsayed says:

    To the anonymous church service streamer – get in touch with me if you want to scope this out:

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