Adaptive streaming is an important part of the future of broadband video, and interoperability matters more than ever. People want to experience Web content swiftly and smoothly across a variety of devices. Microsoft Open Technologies, Inc. (MS Open Tech), is working with others in the industry to define guidelines for the delivery of video online, as well as contributing open source code that demonstrates interoperability of adaptive streaming across a variety of devices.
Adaptive streaming allows streamed video content to adjust to the bandwidth available at any given time. The result is a more fluid streaming experience for the viewer. However, today’s proprietary technologies make it difficult for content to be delivered to the many consumer devices available. The MPEG-DASH standard (ISO/IEC 23009-1) seeks to address this problem. In addition it provides many other advantages, such as switching between camera views, low-latency live streaming and improved subtitles and captioning.
Microsoft Corp. is a founding member of the DASH Industry Forum (DASH-IF), an incorporated non-profit organization with over 65 members working to catalyze the adoption of MPEG-DASH. DASH-IF recently surveyed a group of European Broadcasters. They found that the biggest barrier to adoption is the lack of available clients capable of playing MPEG-DASH content. One of the reasons for this is that MPEG-DASH is a large and complex standard with many potential variations in implementation.
DASH-IF has published a set of guidelines for implementation (called DASH-AVC/264). Using these guidelines, organizations can more easily build MPEG-DASH solutions that are interoperable. MS Open Tech, along with Digital Primates and a number of other DASH-IF partners, are building an open source DASH-AVC/264 reference implementation called DASH.js.
Dash.js is permissively licensed (under the BSD license) and can therefore be studied and reused by anyone seeking to provide their own DASH-AVC/264 compliant player. The goal is to make it easier for third-parties to build adaptive streaming video players.
In order to achieve this goal, the DASH.js player needs to be useful in as many environments as possible. Therefore, the DASH.js project seeks to be as open as possible to contributions. MS Open Tech is leading the definition of a fully inclusive project governance model to help ensure the success of the project. A governance model is a small set of rules and guidelines under which the project community operates. It ensures wide participation without a loss of efficiency and agility.
Of course, governance is secondary to the production of useful software. MS Open Tech developers, along with other contributors to DASH.js, are already hard at work. At the same time other parts of Microsoft are working to support MPEG-DASH, for example Windows Azure Media Services recently announced a preview feature that enables MPEG-DASH live profile streaming.
MPEG-DASH is important to the future of broadband video. Come and join the MS Open Tech team in making the DASH.js project a success.