Microsoft Challenges Streaming Media Industry to Disclose Scalability And Reliability to Customers

REDMOND, Wash., May 22, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced results from a new report by ZD Labs that independently verified the streaming scalability and reliability of Microsoft® Windows Media™ Services, and challenged the digital media industry to follow suit by freely allowing public evaluation of the scalability and reliability of streaming server technology. The ZD Labs study, released today, demonstrated that Windows Media Services, a part of Windows® 2000 Advanced Server, provides customers with unmatched scalability and reliability. This study, together with Microsoft’s public load simulator software and the public disclosure of ZD Labs testing methodology, demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to freely providing customers with the information and tools they need to make the most educated decision in the selection of a streaming media platform.

The ZD Labs study found that the Windows Media Services feature in the Windows 2000 Advanced Server platform is capable of distributing more than 9,000 concurrent narrowband and more than 2,400 broadband video streams on a single physical server. The report also found that for over 12 days Windows Media Services in Windows 2000 successfully streamed 2,406 100Kbps video streams with a 99.99 percent accuracy rate in its delivery of over 26 billion packets of data.

“ZD Labs welcomes Microsoft’s willingness to put its streaming media technology to the test, and in this case the results were very impressive,”
said Mark Van Name, vice president and general manager of ZD Labs.
“Third-party verification of product claims is what keeps this industry competitive, and arms customers with the critical information they need to make informed decisions. We join Microsoft in inviting others in the digital media industry to do the same.”

Microsoft commissioned ZD Labs to independently verify the scalability of the Windows Media Services feature of the Windows 2000 server platform using Microsoft’s publicly available Windows Media Load Simulator (WMLoad) tool. The study verified Windows Media Services on both narrowband and broadband connections with the following results:

  • Narrowband. More than 9,000 concurrent 22Kbps video streams* were confirmed on a single server running Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

  • Broadband. More than 2,400 concurrent 100Kbps video streams* were confirmed on a single server running Windows 2000 Advanced Server.

“Content and hosting providers are demanding the best scalability and reliability for smooth, uninterrupted digital media delivery,”
said Dave Fester, general manager of marketing, Digital Media Division at Microsoft.
“Today’s report from ZD Labs validates our own internal testing and conclusively proves the unmatched scalability and reliability of Windows Media Services. Microsoft challenges our competitors to put their technology through the same rigors and disclose the results to ensure customers have all the facts before making their digital media platform choice.”

These results are being released at a critical juncture as digital media server performance becomes mission-critical for companies whose success hinges on delivering a high-quality digital media experience. Top network operators, content providers and enterprise customers depend on the Windows Media Services streaming feature of Windows 2000 Server and Advanced Server to reach the broadest audience while minimizing server costs.

“As the leader in distributed delivery of streaming media, we’ve found that the Windows Media platform is ideal for scalable and reliable delivery of both narrowband and broadband services,”
said Nils Lahr, chief architect of iBEAM Broadcasting Corp.
“We’ve been very impressed with Windows Media Services in Windows 2000. It is so scalable we can use fewer servers while maximizing our streaming capacity.”

ZD Labs Testing Methodology

To achieve its test results, ZD Labs set up Windows Media Server on an eight-way Compaq ProLiant 8500 server (supplied by Compaq) running Windows 2000 Advanced Server. Microsoft’s WMLoad tool was installed on test clients running Windows NT® Workstation 4.0 Service Pack 6 and configured each client to read Microsoft Media Server-unicast UDP (user datagram protocol) video streams from the server. Windows Media Encoder 4.1 was used to encode Advanced Streaming Format (ASF) video streams. Two tests were run to verify the reproducibility of results. All tools used in the test including the load simulator are publicly available for download from .

Test Findings

For the narrowband test, ZD Labs configured Windows Media Server to distribute a 50-minute 22Kbps video stream. Twenty-two PCs acting as multiple-stream clients participated in the test, successfully reaching 9,000 streams, with no dropped streams or stream errors during the run. The maximum repeatable stream count reached was 9,506 streams.

For the broadband test, ZD Labs configured Windows Media Server to distribute a 60-minute 100Kbps video stream in an endless loop. Forty-eight clients participated in the test, successfully reached 2,400-streams. At the end of the 12-day run, Windows Media Server was still successfully streaming all 2,406 100Kbps video streams to the test clients.

Companies wanting to verify their technology claims and fully inform their customers are invited to take advantage of ZD Labs’ decades of research experience to verify their technology claims. Interested parties can contact ZD Labs at (650) 513-8000.

About Windows Media

Windows Media, the leading digital media platform, provides consumers, content providers, solution providers, software developers and corporations with unmatched audio and video quality. Windows Media Technologies, which include Windows Media Player, Windows Media Services, Windows Media Tools and the Windows Media Software Development Kit (SDK), are available for download at . The Windows Media Player is the fastest-growing digital media player and is available in 24 languages. To date, there are over 100 million licensed copies of the Windows Media Player, growing by more than one every second.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

*Microsoft Media Server unicast via UDP

Microsoft, Windows Media, Windows and Windows NT are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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