It is funny the things that can start on Twitter these days. Take this Twitter conversation between Don Christie (President of NZOSS) and Kevin Ackhurst (Microsoft NZ MD).
I guess this is my opportunity to explain the situation and offer a solution.
GOVIS09 videos have been published exclusively using Microsoft Media Server (Microsoft's proprietary network streaming protocol used to transfer unicast data in Windows Media Services). In itself Windows Media Streams have some advantages in that the video isn’t downloaded or cached on the local machine; it is scalable and supports live events and you can instantly move to the end of the video without waiting to download all the in between bits (unlike video solutions like YouTube).
Incidentally we have released Microsoft Media Server Protocol Specification document and there is a free, open source implementation of the MMS protocol.
There are multiple ways to consume and play Windows Media Streams that I will get onto in a moment but the root of the problem identified above is that the ISV that delivered the GOVIS solution is delivering a Windows Media Player only solution that doesn’t work on Mac or Linux.
To answer Colin Jackson’s question, “I though Microsoft was is an interoperability company now?”
I thought I’d take on the challenge to present the existing published GOVIS video streams inside a solution that plays cross browser and cross platform using Free and Open Source Software.
1) I chose to present the videos using SilverStripe (2008 New Zealand Open Source Software Project of the year) running on Windows Server 2008 R2. (Single click install using the Web PI).
2) I download the FOSS JW WMV Player from Google Code
3) I linked it all up at http://compati.bility.co.nz
The next challenge was to test that this plays out fine on a Linux desktop.
I followed Grant’s excellent post on getting openSUSE to run under virtual PC. Since I’m running Windows 7 I was able to take advantage of the awesome new Virtual PC beta that takes advantage of the Intel™ Virtualization or AMD-V Technologies.
Once SUSE was up and running I popped over to http://www.go-mono.com/moonlight/
Moonlight is a free, open source implementation of Microsoft Silverlight for Unix systems (You can download a tarball of the source here).
I popped back to http://compati.bility.co.nz and accepted the license for the Windows Media Codec's and Voilà I was watching the Windows Media Services GOVIS09 videos in Linux.
The next task was to create pages for each of the videos listed on the GOVIS site. I must admit that I was surprised to find that a quarter of the videos would not play!
At a quick glance there appears to be a low level encoding error on the following fifteen videos (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15) which includes ironically Don Christie’s presentation. I'm keen to look deeper into this issue to understand more about what is going on with those affected videos.
I have linked to the other 42 working videos for your enjoyment from the home page at http://compati.bility.co.nz