Microsoft's Azure cloud gets live video encoding for everyone

Other new additions to the media services suite include sub-clip extraction and more

Microsoft has made its Live Encoding service generally available as part of a slew of updates announced Thursday for the Azure Media Services suite. 

Live Encoding is a powerful service that lets broadcasters send one video stream to Microsoft's cloud and get it encoded there into an adaptive bitrate stream that can be sent to different types of devices. That means a video producer can send a single high-quality stream to the cloud that can then be streamed in lower quality to people on slower connections. 

It's a tool that has already been used by partners like NBC in high-pressure situations including streaming video from the 2014 Winter Olympics. Microsoft has the potential to draw in both large companies with massive streaming loads and smaller operations that handle far less than an Olympics worth of video.

Media companies that want to quickly take footage from a live stream and turn it into on-demand video can use Azure's Media Encoder Standard service to extract smaller clips from an ongoing live stream. 

The updates also include Google's Widevine Modular DRM technology, in addition to the AES 128-bit clear key encryption and Microsoft's PlayReady DRM that Azure Media Services already had. The new feature means the service now allows for playback of files encrypted using Google's DRM in Chrome on desktop computers (including Macs) and Android devices. 

It's all part of Microsoft's push to make its cloud platform appealing to companies that want to broadcast video over the Web but don't want to build their own infrastructure to do so. Meanwhile, Amazon announced last week that it will acquire Elemental Technologies to boost the video capabilities of its cloud platform. 

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