Posey's Tips & Tricks

Microsoft To Replace Office 365 Video With Stream

Here's a test drive on the newest addition to Microsoft's Office 365 service, along with a look at what is different from its current streaming video service.

For some time now, Microsoft's solution for enterprise video sharing has been Office 365 Video. For those who have never tried Office 365 Video, it is a lot like YouTube, except that it is designed to host videos for an organization's own internal use, rather than being a public video sharing service like YouTube is. Recently, however, Microsoft has begun rolling out a new video sharing service called Microsoft Stream. Stream is part of Office 365, and will eventually replace Office 365 Video.

As with other Office 365 updates, Microsoft is making Stream available to its customers on a gradual basis. As such, some organizations will get access to Steam more quickly than others. To find out whether or not you currently have access to Stream, simply log into the Office 365 Admin Center, and check the menu to see if Stream is listed.

For right now, Stream and Video are both available, although Steam will eventually replace Video. As you can see in Figure 1, both show up on my collection of Office 365 tiles.

Figure 1. For right now, Microsoft is allowing Office 365 subscribers use both Stream and Video.

By now you are probably wondering what the difference is between Stream and Office 365 Video. Well, both applications are designed to serve a similar purpose. You can see what Office 365 Video looks like in Figure 2.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 2. This is what Office 365 Video looks like.

In contrast, you can see the current version of Stream, shown in Figure 3.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 3.This is what Microsoft Stream looks like.

As you can see in the figures above, Office 365 Video is a relatively bare-bones application. It allows users to create channels and upload videos, and there is also a built-in search engine that users can use to locate videos.

Like Office 365 Video, Stream allows users to create channels and upload videos. And it also has a built-in search engine. Although the two apps provide similar core functionality, Stream just feels more like a finished app than Office 365 Video does. That probably stems from the fact that Stream looks and feels more like a social networking site.  Stream, for example, allows you to add videos to a watch list. Videos also include the obligatory Like button and Comment section, as shown in Figure 4.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 4. Stream videos include a Like button and a Comment section.

In spite of the fact that Stream feels more like a finished app, there are a few things that Office 365 Video offers that Stream does not.  As you can see in Figure 5, Office 365 Video compiles and richly displays statistics related to the number of times that a video has been viewed. Stream does show the total number of views that a video has received, but it does not provide the nice graphical view that shows when the views occurred.

[Click on image for larger view.] Figure 5.Office 365 Video provides some nice statistics related to video activity.

Another advantage that Office 365 Video has over Stream is the ability to start a Yammer conversation related to the video. Clicking on the Yammer icon causes a Yammer conversation to be started without the user ever having to leave the Video app. In other words, Stream uses its own built-in Comments interface, while Office 365 Video uses Yammer for video comments. Personally, I like the Stream approach better because the comments are readily displayed just beneath the video. The user does not have to look to Yammer to see if any conversations exist.

Personally, I would not be surprised to see Microsoft eventually add support for Yammer, and maybe even SharePoint, to Stream. Given the investments that Microsoft has made in business intelligence and data analytics, I also would not be surprised to see Microsoft eventually build a full-blown reporting engine for Stream videos.

In my opinion, the one thing that Stream really needs is better metadata support. When you upload a video to Stream, you are given the option of providing a name and description for the video. You can also specify the video's language and pick a thumbnail. Some of the more advanced uploading options include setting permissions on the video and enabling closed captioning.

These options are great, especially if the close captioning transcripts end up being searchable. Even so, Microsoft really needs to add some additional metadata fields that users can populate. For example, fields for data and location might prove useful. Tagging might be another way of making videos easier to locate within the search engine.

In any case, I think that Microsoft has done a great job on Stream, and Stream will probably only get better as time goes on.

About the Author

Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.


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