There are two ways, streaming and progressive download, for delivering media content in Internet today.
· To stream media is to simply open a pipe between a client and a server and push down data. This method allows a user viewing or listening to the received media content before the media file itself is completely downloaded. Streaming is suitable for viewing large media files without the need to download the entire file. One important advantage of this approach is the actual media source is hidden.
The streaming solution for Windows Server 2008 is Windows Media Services (WMS) 2008 with new features and it is a free download. There is a new built-in cache/proxy plug-in to configure a Windows Media server either as a cache/proxy server or a reverse-proxy server. The Windows Media Services is also a supported installation option for Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008. The article, 934518, details how to install Windows media services in Windows Server 2008.
· Progressive download on the other hand is to push an amount of content down to a client for processing. The drawback of this method is a client may be viewing only part of the entire download content as to waste the bandwidth for downloading that was not viewed.
Windows Server 2008 has IIS7 to deliver progressive download solution. Actually IIS7 HTTP progressive download includes features similar to those in media streaming. IIS7 Media Pack Bit Rate Throttling module 64-bit and 32-bit versions are available for download. IIS7 Bit Rate Throttling implements a dynamic per-file throttling capability to automatically detect encoded the bit rate of each file, sending the first few seconds at the highest data rate possible, and then throttling the rest of the file download based on the encoded bit rate. This saves network bandwidth while preserving the fast start-up experience for the end user.
In addition to TechNet IIS, an excellent resource to find out more about the media delivery solutions and IIS7 in general is the official Microsoft IIS site. The Microsoft IIS team is very actively sharing experiences and forming a community. Both are must-have bookmarks.