The highlight of this update is support for live encoding, which is now in preview. This builds on Microsoft’s existing live video capabilities for the service, but as a Microsoft spokesperson explained to me, this new feature now allows Azure’s media customers to “deliver a true Cloud DVR experience.” Live encoding gives Azure users the ability to build their own live workflows with live transcoding for multiple formats, archiving, just-in-time packaging (so you only render streams for the kinds of devices that actually request them), and dynamic encryption.
While Live Encoding is now in private beta, Microsoft also today launched the Azure Media Player, which now gives content owners an automated online player solution (instead of having to build their own) that supports all the usual industry standards like HTML5 video, Media Source Extensions and rights management through Encrypted Media Extensions. The focus here is on open standards, but on older browsers, the player can fall back on Flash or Silverlight.
Other new features in this release include Spanish support for Azure’s speech-to-text audio indexing service, as well as certification from the Content Delivery Security Association for content owners and delivery services that need to be able to prove that their content is stored securely and can’t be easily pirated.