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What is Windows Media Hosting?

Windows Media was a multimedia framework from Microsoft that facilitated creating, viewing, and distributing media in digital format. It supported audio, visual, and streaming material. Beginning with Windows Vista, Windows Media has been replaced by Media Foundation.

Prior to Windows Vista, Windows Media was the engine behind popular media applications such as Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Windows Media Encoder, Windows Media Services, and Windows Movie Maker. Windows Media supported a wide range of file formats including the popular Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Windows Media Video (WMV) formats.

What was Windows Media used for?

Windows Media was a flexible multimedia framework designed to handle every aspect of media creation, viewing, streaming, and distribution within the Windows environment. The most well-known application of Windows Media was Windows Media Player. As a digital replacement for your music, video, and picture collections, Windows Media Player (WMP) lets users store, manage, and use their media. Features include playback, rewind, fast forward, and playlist creation, as well as an integrated library. You may organize and view your library by artist, genre, date, or album. Enhance your music listening with visualizations, which generally offer pleasant color and movement, and alter with your music.

Music transfer is simple with WMP. You can rip music from an audio compact disc (CD), converting it quickly to a digital file. You can also burn music from your computer onto a CD. The player supports several file formats, and even enables users to sync Apple devices with their computers.

Windows Media Center is another popular application that was once powered by the Windows Media framework and provides many of the same features as does WMP, with the added capability to show and record live television. Windows Media Center also makes it possible for users to stream through services like Netflix. For site owners who want to distribute their own content (or offer content creation tools to their visitors), Windows Media Encoder and Windows Media Services are other applications the software uses to capture, convert, and generate viewable media.

Some applications that were originally built with the Windows Media framework have been continued to the present day utilizing the Media Foundation framework. Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center are two Microsoft applications that have made the transition from the Windows Media framework over to Media Foundation.

What is Media Foundation?

Media Foundation is a multimedia framework that replaced several legacy multimedia frameworks including Windows Media, Microsoft DirectShow, and DirectX Media Objects. Media Foundation has been the defacto media framework for all versions of Windows from Vista up to the present. Backward compatibility between Media Foundation and previous versions of Windows is not offered.

Media Foundation is the engine behind current versions of Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center, Firefox, Goldwave, and any other application that uses the Protected Media Path in Windows.

Where can I get the Media Foundation framework?

Media Foundation is not offered as a stand-alone framework. If you want to develop applications with media support for use with Windows-based systems you’ll need to download and install the Windows software development kit (SDK) which includes the Media Foundation application program interface (API).

Server Requirements

If you want to host media files in a Windows format (WMV or WMA for example) you will need to select a hosting provider that offers media servers with support for these file formats. The latest version of Internet Information Services includes IIS Media Services, which is the media engine for Windows servers, and supports streaming of media files.

Media files are typically very large, and will impose large bandwidth requirements on a server. So you won’t be surprised to learn that media is not usually hosted on the same server as a website. There are many hosting providers who offer media servers for the purpose of hosting audio and video files with streaming capability.

Since media playback is supported by an integrated component of IIS (IIS Media Services) all servers running an updated version of IIS have the capability of streaming media files (unless that capability has been blocked by the hosting provider). As a result it is possible to host both a website and streaming media files from a single server. However, as was already mentioned, since the bandwidth loads placed on a server by streaming media are so great it is still unusual for a single server to host both websites and streaming media.

In any event, we suggest you have a conversation with candidate hosting providers about the type of media files you want to host as well as the traffic you expect those files to see before assuming they are set up to provide support for your project.

Windows Media Frequently Asked Questions

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