Many of you may know that MIX09 is in full swing and Microsoft has announced not only Silverlight 3 Beta but also added some new live streaming capabilities to its platform.
Once of those additions is a feature called Live Smooth Streaming which, if I understand it correctly, provides the equivalent to Adobe's dynamic bitrate streaming by offering fallback bitrates if the connection speed on the user's side fluctuates. The term 'Live Smooth Streaming' is a little bit deceptive however since this service - as far as I understand it - is not true streaming at all, however it comes close to a streaming experience. Instead it uses chunks of HTTP progressively downloaded material to provide a stream-like experience. I guess 'Live Smooth HTTP Download' doesn't sound as sexy.
Another feature is the so-called Live PVR, basically a total rip-off of Adobe's DVR functionality introduced recently to FMS which lets users rewind a live event and catch up to it as well. Microsoft describes their service as a 'PVR in the cloud', and it runs on top of IIS 7 and Windows Server 2008. Ben Waggoner has all the details, mixed in with some marketing fluff.
While it's great to see competition take hold in this space I would really wish for Microsoft to be more innovative at times. Of course they are playing catch up with Flash on the Silverlight front, but I generally expect them to be more experienced in the video streaming space (they've been doing this for much longer than Adobe). We've seen a glimpse of the fact that Microsoft is able to innovate during the preview of the out-of-browser install feature in Silverlight 3, but the blatant copy of Adobe's DVR functionality seems a bit cheap to me. If copying can't be avoided then so be it, but couldn't you at least differentiate the feature a little bit, or top it somehow? That would really get Adobe into gear too and maybe speed up some of their own initiatives - I've heard they are working some new FMS features.