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Microsoft Starting To Preview Its Office 365 Video Service

Microsoft announced a preview today of a new video service for certain Office 365 subscribers.

This Office 365 Video service is part of SharePoint Online. It facilitates the uploading and sharing of videos within groups in an organization, as permitted by IT through Active Directory access management. The service provides an easy way for end users to upload videos to portal pages using a Web interface. Files can be dragged and dropped onto the interface to upload them. Microsoft encrypts the videos in transit and at rest.

Automatic Transcoding
Office 365 Video is powered by Azure Media Services, which is typically used by broadcasters to deliver streaming media content. One benefit of using Azure Media Services is that uploaded videos get sized automatically to fit on desktop computers and smaller mobile devices, without the user having to perform the sizing work. Microsoft claims that "any device" can be used to view the videos, per its announcement. Office 365 Video is capable of handling various video formats, including H.264, DV, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1 and WMV, according to a Microsoft-produced video.

The automatic transcoding that takes place with the Office 365 Video service can be contrasted with uploading video versions to the SharePoint media library, where the user has to transcode the videos manually, according to a blog post by Puzzlepart, an Oslo, Norway-based SharePoint consulting service for enterprises.

Right now, there's a 15-minute to 30-minute delay after uploading videos using the Office 365 Video service because of the transcoding time required by Azure Media Services, Puzzlepart's blog explained. Uploading videos to existing sites and pages still requires using JavaScript, but Puzzlepart expects Microsoft to eventually smooth that out. The service still requires the use of Flash in its initial release.

Microsoft wraps a lot of its own enterprise social media functions around the Office 365 Video service. Videos get tracked through Microsoft's Office Graph machine learning solution to make them easier to find. Microsoft adds its Yammer enterprise social networking to posted videos. Microsoft Delve "cards," which help people connect with groups in organizations, also can have video links within them.

Availability
Microsoft's early test community will have access to the Office 365 Video service "over the next few days." Office 365 Video is planned for broader commercial release in "early 2015," according to Microsoft's announcement.

The new video service will be a no-cost feature added to certain Office 365 Enterprise and Academic plans. It's also planned for Government Office 365 plans, but availability isn't announced yet. Office 365 Video is included in the E1 through E4 Office 365 Enterprise plans, as well as the A2 through A4 Academic plans. It's not included in Office 365 Business plans or Dedicated plans.

Even though Office 365 Video is a free addition to those plans, there can be some potential storage costs associated with the service. Uploaded video files are measured against an organization's "SharePoint Online team sites pooled storage," according to Microsoft. An organization can turn off the Office 365 Video service completely, if wanted, via the SharePoint Online administration center.

Microsoft claims that the Office 365 Video service is the first of its "next-generation portal" solutions that will be coming to Office 365. These solutions typically use Office Graph technology as well as Yammer, and are designed to work across any device.

Future updates to the Office 365 Video service will enable the publishing of Office Mix training content (which are interactive PowerPoint presentations), video captioning and the ability to create video "collections," according to the company's announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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