Keith Combs' Blahg

Ramblings from another nerd on the grid

TechNet 2.0 – Episode 5 – Videos and Profiles

TechNet 2.0 – Episode 5 – Videos and Profiles

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TechNet has recorded thousands of videos in the past ten years in the form of webcast replays, screencasts on blogs, and in the product TechCenter “How Do I” areas. Video is the fastest growing content type on TechNet and I see no slowdown in growth. In fact, we have some interesting plans I think you’ll like. Let’s talk about where we’re at and where we are headed.

Years ago the videos we posted were really pretty bad in terms of the user experience. It wasn’t the message in the video, but rather the quality of the video. They were blurry, jerky and prone to buffering. At the time there was little else you could do. People simply didn’t have the bandwidth necessary to watch something in near HD quality from their home or office internet connection.

TechNet is investing in the video experience to increase the overall quality of the content experience, discoverability, and provide opportunities for community participation.

Video

You can see in the screenshot we are providing a wide array of audio and video types so you can watch or listen to the demonstration or training while on the go, in the gym, or at your desk. We provide a larger player for the in browser experience. If you prefer a full screen view, that is available as well. You can of course download to your Zune, iPod and later this year we’ll have supported formats for the Windows Phone 7 Series.

Our strategy is to provide you with a rich video portal experience complete with comments, voting, rating, rich meta data support, and a large pipeline of great technical content from Microsoft experts and the community. We want to automatically surface and link other related videos, or other videos an author has produced in addition to social syndication with platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Sound good? We’re just getting started.

Because we are using Silverlight, we can take advantage of the underlying content delivery network and platform improvements. In fact, we are moving the platform to IIS Smooth Streaming soon to support the plans we have for the coming video portal experience. You can see some examples of this at the Microsoft.com/video portal today.

Profiles

Commenting on videos is just one way to participate. Library annotations, forum participation and uploading scripts are all ways you can participate on the TechNet platform online properties today.

Wouldn’t you like a little credit and love for all of your contributions? Well I’m happy to say we are making some improvements soon that will recognize your contributions to TechNet and enable you to build and identity and reputation within the TechNet Community. In order to do that, we are overhauling the TechNet Profile Page.

As you can see in the screenshot below, the profile has been improved. We provide a much larger area for your picture or avatar. There is an area for your blog or website, employer, other Microsoft profile affiliations, and how long you’ve had a TechNet profile. You’ll also notice a much larger area for your biography.

Profile

One of the things I noticed in the series comments is that some people don’t like blogs. They don’t trust the technical accuracy and would like to filter them from search results. Our coming profile system can certainly change that. If my content is consistently getting votes and rated for quality and accuracy, someone that comes to technet.microsoft.com for the first time can look at my work and profile and make a decision with better supporting data. This will be apparent in search results. This will be apparent all across our profiles.

Take a look at Lex Green in the sample screenshot above. It’s immediately apparent he is a high contributor, Microsoft employee, and has garnered a lot of points from the voting and rating system. Would you still write off his blog? What about all of the forum thread answers?

You’ll see profile information in areas like the Forums. This is really a key area because you can easily spot Microsoft employees, MVPs, and other top contributors and experts. It’s going to become important for all types of content like the Script Gallery, Library, Video portal and other areas we’ll discuss more in the future.

The data about you is important for several reasons. The breadth and depth of your contributions will be on full display. This goes beyond street cred. This allows you to learn about other people you encounter at the various sites we have and engage with them at different levels.

We are shipping the new profile system this week so by all means, let us know what you think!!!

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  • Does this complement, replace or duplicate what is available on TechNet Edge?

  • I thought this was a cool way to do videos on technet.

    http://www.microsoft.com/belux/technet/nl/chopsticks/default.aspx

    I like the blog/cloud format so I can easily click a topic and find all related videos.

    Unfortunately that portion of technet seems to be mostly french/dutch.

  • Peter,

    What would you prefer?

  • With your push towards the product-oriented Tech Centers and better version scoping, it would be great to see the videos about, for example, Exchange 2010 DAGs with all the other Exchange 2010 material.  

    There would obviously be some more generic videos that would be harder to decide where they should go.

    All that said, I do like being able to go to Edge and see videos about lots of products and topics.  Maybe you could put the videos with their appropriate products, but also provide a video-only RSS feed, covering all the products and topics.  Having the material duplicated on Edge seems like it would get confusing trying to figure out if something is new or not.

  • Peter,

    We are doing exactly that. There are a couple of things taking place. First of all, the underlying delivery platform is changing so we can scale as well as deliver different streams via Smooth Streaming. We want a CDN that can deliver the bits in a variety of ways.

    On top of CDN platform, we are building a rich base of meta data so we can use the information about each video to have them surface in places that make sense.  A product TechCenter is one example, but wouldn't it be cool to show a link to a video automatically in a forum about a particular discussion?  Or in the Library near an article or whitepaper. Meta data is key.

    As for the Edge question, we are in planning sessions with that team right now. We firmly believe that Edge style videos and interviews are a necessity. We also believe we can help the Edge team take their work to the next level and we want to bring the community along for the ride.

    I have created a lot of screencasts and videos so this is a particular item of interest to me. At the end of the day I want the experience we provide to be superior. That is our focus.  The IT Pro experience.

  • I'm really enjoying this series, and the video features look to be great.

    The one thing that really reduces my productivity when consuming 'net video is when a "full screen" view doesn't allow simultaneous use of my second monitor.  

    What I mean is: You have two monitors attached. You bring up a web page with a video. You go to full screen view on, for example, the right-hand monitor. Now, you can only "look but don't touch" on the left-monitor... As soon as you do anything at all, the full screen view collapses back to the hosting page in your browser. This happens with both Silverlight and Flash video.

    So, I really like that you are offering WMV files, because you can run WMP full screen on one monitor, and do other things on the other.  Good one!  But... really, Silverlight would be "killer" if it could do this on its own, because Silverlight is otherwise my favorite way to consume web video. Since it seems that things will be somewhat targeted to Silverlight, I feel like I'll be missing out if I have to resort to WMV...

  • Let me check on the Silverlight issue. I would also like to be able to keep one of my monitors full screen and haven't figured out how to force it to ignore what's happening on other parts of my desktop.

    FYI, here's my desktop... http://msinetpub.vo.llnwd.net/d1/keithcombs/blog/images/Toys.jpg

    :-)