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The Silverlight Guru: Working with Old Technologies—Streaming MMS, Windows Movie Maker

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 comes from "abouldin":

We are having issues with streaming MMS on our Windows Media server. Some of our agencies are having problems receiving our MMS files because of network security constraints. We have been streaming MMS for over six years now. My network people are telling me that MMS is obsolete and to use something else. Unfortunately we have about 30,000 files of WMV content on the MMS server now that agencies are link to our server.

Any ideas and is MMS really obsolete?

Originally, Windows Media used the MMS (Microsoft Media Server) protocol, says Ben. The industry converged around RTSP ages ago, and since the days of Windows Server 2003 or a little before, Windows has used RTSP by default. The actual MMS protocol hasn't been supported by Windows Media Services in years. Yes, it's obsolete, but that doesn’t matter, Ben says.

"When you have a Windows Media stream on a streaming server that's linked to with a MMS URL, no one is ever actually getting that as MMS. It's the Windows Media RTSP protocol being used," Ben explains. The MMS protocol is obsolete, but it's still used in URLs to let players know how to handle streamed media content.

To get it to work reliably, make sure that Windows Media Services is configured for HTTP fallback, so that the file will stream over HTTP if a corporate firewall blocks RTSP traffic. So abouldin, your existing content should work just fine if you configure your server for HTTP fallback.

Our second question comes from "wtmonroe":

I work at an educational institution that has relied upon Windows Movie Maker 2.1 (WMM2.1) on to capture and encode video streams on PCs running XP. Basically, we had a camera with a composite audio/video output that was then converted with a small USB analog/DV converter. WMM2.1 then recognized the video stream and captured/encoded it to a WMV file. The end result was a WMV file at ~400Kbps that we could provide to our students.

Neither the version of WMM that comes with Vista (WMM6) nor the version Microsoft released (WMM2.6) for those whose graphics cards didn't effectively run MM6 support video stream capture. It appears that this won't change under versions of WMM in Windows 7.

A detailed series of articles explains the differences between the various versions of WMM and how they run on XP/Vista/7. There's also an interesting description of how to install WMM2.1 on Vista that will permit video capture. However, it involves altering some DLLs. I'm not sure this will work for us across our 15 classrooms.

Our challenge is to find a way to capture (not import) and encode a video stream from our cameras to WMV using relatively easy-to-use software like WMM. At this point though I'm willing to entertain just about anything that will accomplish capturing/encoding and then worry about how to train our students and faculty later.

If anyone has any experience capturing/encoding to WMV on Vista/7 I would really appreciate your input.

All you need is Expression Encoder to accomplish the same thing, says Ben. The trial version of Expression Encoder 3 is a free download. Get it and you'll be able to do live capture to the Windows Media format, as well as trimming and editing.

The old Windows Movie Maker supported live capture from standard video capture devices. The newer version, however, doesn't capture directly to the Windows Media file format. Switch to Expression Encoder 3 and you'll get live capture as you had it before. You'll also get higher quality, since it includes a better version of the encoder.

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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