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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 Beginning with Windows Vista, Windows Media has been replaced by Media Foundation.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 Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why was Windows Media abandoned in favor of Media Foundation?

    Transitioning to Media Foundation made sense for several reasons. First, it allowed several different media environments to be combined into one single framework thereby improving format support. Second, Media Foundation was intended to provide a better tool in response to the explosion of growth in the use of media online and the popularity of HD video. Finally, Media Foundation provides a simplified programming model when compared to the legacy frameworks it replaced.

  • Can I host my media files on any Windows web server?

    Any Windows web server with the latest version of IIS supports media streaming via HTTP. However, not all hosting providers intend you to use their servers in that way, and you may see significant issues with bandwidth if you have several visitors streaming content at once. The best course of action is to discuss your bandwidth and disk space needs with a hosting provider before assuming their hosting services will work for what you want to do.

  • Can I host Windows Media Audio and Video format files on a Linux server?

    It depends. You should check with the hosting provider you have in mind. Hosting streaming media files is not as straightforward as hosting websites. Generally speaking, if you think your hosting provider will need to support multiple users concurrently streaming your media files you're going to be best-served by a hosting provider that specializes in hosting media files.

  • What file formats does Media Foundation support?

    The first version of Media Foundation included with Windows Vista only supported a very limited number of formats. However, the version included with Windows 7 and 8 supports a very wide range of popular file formats including: WMA, WMV, AVI, WAV, MP3, MP4, MOV and many others

  • Does Media Foundation help protect intellectual property rights?

    A set of technologies called the Protected Media Path are integrated into Media Foundation. The purpose of these technologies is to help protect and enforce digital rights management. This was one of the many upgrades Media Foundation offered over Windows Media.

  • What is Windows Media and how is the software used?

    Windows Media, offered by Microsoft, has been a popular software framework for many years. Its basic purpose is to facilitate the creation and viewing of media on a computer. There are many applications offered through Windows Media, including but not limited to Windows Media Center and Windows Media Player.

  • What is Windows Media Player?

    Windows Media Player has long been one of the best ways for users to store, manage, and use media, such as video and music. It was first made available to users in 1991. Some of the features of this application include playlist creation, playback, and an integrated library. Users have the ability to organize their library in a variety of ways, such as by date or artist. Over the years, Windows Media Player has been updated many times, ensuring that it provides users with the highest quality experience.

  • Can Windows Media be used for transferring music?

    Yes. Windows Media Player makes it simple to transfer music from a CD, for example, to a digital file. Several years ago, when CDs were still popular and digital music was just coming into its own, Windows Media Player was the application of choice. Making it even more popular is the fact that it allows users to sync their computers with Apple devices, such as an iPhone or iPad.

  • Do you need a particular type of hosting plan to use Windows Media?

    To ensure that you don’t run into any trouble, it is best to check with your hosting provider before installing Windows Media. There are several requirements for using this application, as you will need a particular amount of size and bandwidth. Some companies provide the option to purchase a separate hosting plan for media needs. Others will host your Windows Media files.

  • What are some of the best hosting companies for the use of Windows Media?

    Most companies offer support for Windows Media, but some of the best hosting providers include iPage, Web Hosting UK, Bod Host, and Hosting Zoom.

  • What is the Windows Media Streaming Media Service?

    With the Streaming Media Services, you are able to manage the on-demand or live delivery of digital media, which includes both Windows Media Video (WMV) and Windows Media Audio (WMA). Furthermore, this can be done over networks through the use of interfaces in Microsoft Windows Media Services 2008.

  • What are some of the next generation products being developed by Microsoft and added to Windows Media?

    The company does not release information on all new releases, but some next generation products include IIS Media Services, Microsoft Silverlight, Microsoft PlayReady, and Microsoft Mediaroom.

  • What are the benefits of Windows Media Player 12, when compared to its predecessors?

    Windows Media Player continues to evolve with each passing update. The most recent version, Windows Media Player 12, is the best yet, thanks to a variety of new features for media lovers. With this application, users have the ability to play more music and video than ever before, all in an efficient and powerful way. There are additional organizational features, such as the ability to shop online for digital content and sync digital media files to a tablet or smartphone.

  • Is It possible to customize Windows Media Player?

    This is one of the primary benefits of Windows Media Player, as it gives users the ability to personalize their experience. Skins make it possible to change the overall appearance of your experience, based on your mood. Best yet, skins are simple to install, regardless of technical experience or knowledge.

  • What are the most popular plug-ins for Windows Media Player?

    The ability to add functionality through a plug-in makes it simple for every Windows Media Player to have the experience they are most interested in. Some of the most popular plug-ins include visualization, now playing, background, and audio DSP.

  • What type of service is available for Windows Media users?

    If you are having difficulty installing Windows Media, it is best to contact your hosting company for assistance. They can walk you through the process and help you better understand any errors. Microsoft also offers its own support for Windows Media users, ensuring that all questions are answered in a timely and accurate manner. Through its official website, users can explore Windows Media downloads, Microsoft Community, and Microsoft Support. Support is available for Windows Media in general, as well as all applications.

  • How much does it cost to install and use Windows Media applications?

    This depends largely on the application you are interested in downloading. Windows Media Player, for example, is free. All the user has to do is download and install the program. There are some, although not many, applications that cost money.

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