11 Dec 2019 by Mike Weaver
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On Monday, Microsoft announced the public preview of a new video-based service, Microsoft Stream. According to its website, Stream allows you to ‘upload and share videos across your organisation to improve communication, participation and learning’. Sound a little familiar? That’s perhaps because it is.
In fact, questions about the interplay between Microsoft Stream and Office 365 Video were anticipated and briefly addressed in this blog post coinciding with the release.
The initial question from many users of Office 365 Video was that, as a reasonably similar service, where does Microsoft Stream fit in? As James Phillips describes in the release blog, ‘Microsoft Stream builds upon the learnings and success of Office 365 Video, and over time the two experiences will converge, making Stream the de facto video experience in Office 365. During the preview of Microsoft Stream, there will be no changes to the Office 365 Video experience.’
As Stream enters public preview, is not entirely clear how its future will take shape, with a clear indication that it will eventually merge with, or directly replace Office 365 Video. What we do know is that Microsoft Stream is not limited to Office 365 users, it’s (currently) completely out on its own, and anyone can test it out for free while it is in preview. After this point it is expected to become a paid subscription service.
So let’s take a look at what we can see
Once you sign up, you’ll reach the portal above. The overall design is sleeker than Office 365 Video, with a lime green and black colour scheme, and branding that differentiates itself (to a degree) from the Office 365 aesthetic.
Stream seems to further highlight Microsoft’s focus on aligning the way users think and approach business technology, applications and services with the ways we interact with equivalent technology and services that we use socially. As Phillips explains, ‘As one of the most consumed and shared content types on the internet, video is increasingly an important part of our personal lives. We believe video can – and should – be just as impactful in the workplace.’ The positioning suggests that the service is aiming to strike a balance between embodying a more ‘social’ quality, as a kind of YouTube for business, while still reinforcing its position as a trusted, recognisable enterprise technology which can provide the level of security and control needed by larger organisations.
According to their website, Microsoft Stream offers an enterprise video service with:
Uploading video, setting permissions and adding channels
As shown below, the upload system is relatively simple, with drag and drop or ‘select file’ options. The service aims to remove the ‘work’ from managing video storage or security settings, as these elements are configured by the service itself.
The upload and processing time seems to be much quicker than Office 365 Video. Another difference between the two is that videos can only be uploaded to one channel in Office 365 Video, whereas in Stream they can be placed in multiple channels.
The permissions settings for sharing videos and channels are similar to Office 365 Video in that you can set a varied level of permissions ranging from user, department, or entire organisation. This can be set at the point of uploading the video, in the field below the ‘Who can see this video’. You can build new channels, by clicking ‘create new channel’ and set their permissions in the area shown below.
Once you have your videos uploaded, your channels added, and your permissions set, then you’re pretty much ready to get your users collaborating and watching. Stream has similar features to Office 365 Video, such as ‘Trending’ videos, search and interaction options, as well as the ability to embed the videos on to other websites.
Microsoft Stream is powered by Azure Media Services, a cloud-based video streaming system that Microsoft has been building up to host a variety of products including public cloud video encoding services used for Office 365 Video and Skype Meeting Broadcast. The service follows similar offerings such as PowerBI and PowerApps, which can be purchased as a standalone subscription, although it is not clear what the pricing model will be yet.
When Microsoft Stream enters general availability, and becomes the ‘de facto‘ experience for Office 365 Video, it will be interesting to see how, and where it will takes Microsoft’s video streaming services. Have you signed up for the preview yet? Let us know what you think of Microsoft Stream so far.
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