Mix:ed feelings

This is a video-streaming service that’s currently free and gives you 4GB of online video storage and up to one million minutes of video streaming per month. The Live service differs from YouTube and similar services by not imposing its own branding on your content, and there’s currently no advertising on the site either, although Microsoft says that ads may follow.

Mix:ed feelings

To display your video content using this service, you’ll need to create a Silverlight player for it, and the easiest way to do this is by using the Expression Encoder, which is available for both Windows and OS X. Simply open the Encoder application, import your video, select the type of skin you want for the player and then select “publish” – it really is that easy. Currently, the video file size is limited to 22MB, which corresponds to about four minutes of video, so uploading your unique take on War and Peace is going to involve some very heavy editing. One reason for this limit, apart from the obvious one of storage space, is that if a video runs over ten minutes then apparently there’s a licence fee to pay for the MPEG compressor.

Using Expression Encoder isn’t the only way to deliver this sort of content from the Silverlight Streaming service, as you can code it yourself or build the functionality into your web application. As a demonstration of how a YouTube-type site might be built using this technology, Microsoft has a sample website at http://codeplex.com/wlquickapps, where you can find a whole host of examples worth looking at.

Another Live service is a complete mapping technology run from http://maps.live.com, which is very like Google’s Maps – it’s been around for some time and is also constantly upgraded, with more features added all the time. Microsoft’s Virtual Earth now has a full open API, whose SDK is available from http://dev.live.com, to enable you to integrate it better into your own web application. I’ve become blasé about yet another application that puts “pushpins” onto a map corresponding to the contents of some database, and so yawn-worthy are such demonstrations by now that I’d like to plead that we stop doing the obvious with this mapping technology and come up with some novel use for all these petabytes (yes, that’s a real word for 1,000TB or 1,000,000GB) of geographical data. My first internet-based job back in 1996 was helping develop a website that put pushpins onto a map depending on the results of a user’s search against a database of hotels, so pardon me if I fail to get overexcited.

Sure the maps are better, but that’s just down to storage capacity and the performance of servers; the web applications work in better ways now but we’re still using maps in the same way, and there has to be a killer application waiting to take advantage of all this data (and no, it isn’t one that shows me where my friends are MSNing me from: either I know where they live already or I don’t care, and knowing that Mike is chatting from the same location as Bill’s wife is positively dangerous). Let’s hope that with the launch of Live tools for Visual Studio we’ll see some truly innovative use of this mapping data.

Passport to success?

I was awoken from such disgruntled musings by the announcement of Live ID user authentication. Those of you who still remember the all-encompassing vision that was Microsoft’s HailStorm may find this familiar. The only actual product to come out of that initiative was the stillborn Passport user-login service, which Microsoft hoped other websites would adopt so that users would have a single place to log into – anyone who uses the internet at all knows that didn’t happen.

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.

Todays Highlights
How to See Google Search History
how to download photos from google photos