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Microsoft, Akamai team up on high-def video streams

Akamai plans to release a beta service, AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight, early next year to media customers.

Microsoft and Akamai Technologies are teaming up on high-definition video streaming efforts for PCs, the companies said Tuesday.

Akamai plans to release a beta service, AdaptiveEdge Streaming for Microsoft Silverlight, early next year to select media customers. It will run on Windows Server 2008 with Microsoft's Silverlight media player.

The move comes as broadband increasingly becomes a fixture in homes and as consumer expectations grow for smooth-running video on PCs. The clarity of HD images is also ramping up in consumer interest in video on PCs.

Microsoft will bring its new Web server technology, Internet Information Services 7.0 Smooth Streaming (IIS7.0), to the table. It is designed to let people view video streams with instant start-up times and without the play-and-pause jerkiness that can come with buffering. The technology aims to provide smooth streaming video by making real-time adjustments to changes in connectivity speeds.

Akamai plans to market the service to media companies worldwide. It will eventually become a feature of the IIS7 Media Pack.

"We've seen firsthand the growing demand for HD online content among our customer base," Tim Napoleon, Akamai's digital media chief strategist, said in a statement.

He noted that images broadcast over the television offer the same consistent quality for all viewers, but that such is not the case with streaming video on PCs. Each viewer may have a different experience on a computer, depending on connectivity speeds at any given moment.

The announcement comes after Microsoft unveiled plans two weeks ago for its Silverlight 2 media player. The new version carries features such as deep zoom, enhancements to cross-platform support, and support for digital rights management.