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The Silverlight Guru: Multicast Video, Windows Mobile Support, Windows Media on the iPhone

If you've got questions about streaming with Silverlight—or anything related to Windows media video or audio—you've come to the right place. Ben Waggoner is Microsoft's principal video strategist for Silverlight and he's well-known to those who frequent industry conferences and forums. He's the source, and he's happy to address Silverlight questions large or small.

Ben Waggoner
For this series, we'll be fielding Silverlight questions from Streaming Media's readers and from the Streaming Media forums for Ben to answer. If you've got something you'd like help with, post to the forum or, even better, drop us a note at tdreier@streamingmedia.com, so we can keep surprising Ben with questions he hasn't seen before.

Our first question was mailed in from Reg:

I am trying to stream a multicast video from Windows 2003 Server (Windows Media), I am using multicast address and port 35085, I have tried to receive this in a Windows XP client using Windows Media Player and VLC but couldn’t receive it.

Will you please give any suggestions/advices to sort this problem ?

"Multicast is really only useful in an enterprise environment," says Ben, such as a government, educational, or corporate space where all the users are on the same local area network or wide area network. The IT department needs to make sure every router is multicast-enabled throughout the organization. It's often used for live corporate events where everyone in an organization needs to watch the same stream, since it provides access without overburdening the network.

You don't give a lot of detail in your question, Reg, but if you're not in a controlled LAN or WAN environment, multicast isn't the way to go. If you are, start by checking your routers to make sure they're multicast enabled.

Our second question was mailed in from Surendra:

I would like to play RTSP, RTP, SHOUTcast, and HTTP streaming audio sources on Windows Mobile. What streaming protocols does Windows Mobile 6.0 support?

Windows Mobile 6.0, a few years old at this point, supports RTP and RTSP as implemented in Windows Media for Windows Media Services, Ben says, and it will play back HTTP Windows Media content. Don't expect it to work with just any HTTP stream.

If you're trying to play more stream types, you could try a third-party mobile player, like Kinoma Play. But if you're trying to deliver a stream that will play out-of-the-box on Windows Mobile 6.0 or higher devices, it needs to be Windows Media. Stick to the Main Profile codec, Ben notes, since the VC1 Advanced Profile codec isn't supported on older devices.

Our third question comes from "Vade" on the Streaming Media forum:

I currently work for a company which streams live events using Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media Services. Although it is not working fairly stably and looking ok, I would like to expand our possible viewer base by covering a larger market.

Is there a way to stream live content in a format which will work on both Windows (Firefox/Internet Explorer, etc) and also the iPhone/iPod Touch?

If so, what sort of software do I want to be looking at and are there any trial versions of said software I can use to see if I can get it working?

"There isn't really a format that's going to work out-of-the-box on all those endpoints," says Ben. The best solution is to get a single encoder that can provide both formats that you'll need and then create two separate streams. If you want your video to display in every version of Windows, it has to be Windows Media, but to work on the iPhone and iPod Touch you'll need to use QuickTime Mpeg4 or the newly supported HTTP live streaming.

The only way it could work, Ben notes, is if someone wrote a Windows Media-playing app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. "It could be fun," he says. We're doubtful that it would pass the iTunes App Store's approval store, though.

"There isn't one yet, which is probably not a good sign," Ben says.

Submit your Silverlight questions to Streaming Media’s Formats, Codecs, and Players forum, or send them directly to the author at tdreier@streamingmedia.com.

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This month the guru takes questions on RTSP Streaming in Silverlight, Windows Media Encoder on a Smartphone, and Windows Media Player 12 with Windows Server 2008.