Xbox 1080p Streaming Uses IIS, Smooth Streaming, But Not Silverlight
Microsoft has given me a few more details surrounding how they are managing to stream 1080p videos on the Xbox 360 with consumers only needing a 4Mbps connection. Microsoft said that Zune Video on Xbox LIVE takes advantage of Microsoft's Smooth Streaming technology, which is a feature of IIS Media Services and that Zune Video was built from the ground-up for the Xbox 360 platform. While the Silverlight plug-in also takes advantage of Smooth Streaming technology, Silverlight is not being used on the Xbox platform.
Microsoft says that Zune video on Xbox LIVE features a state-of-the-art encoder and high performance decoder that allows them to offer instant on 1080p video and 5.1 surround sound with Smooth Streaming playback and smooth fast-forward and rewind functionality. They aren't giving out any details yet on how the videos are encoded and what the settings are, but I expect we'll hear more about that when the service launches to the public. Microsoft also said that they recommend a minimum of 4 Mbps for the full 1080p/5.1 experience but the great thing about the technology is that videos will automatically scale to the best possible resolution based on the speed of the users internet connection.
I can't wait until Microsoft is willing to give out more technical details around the Zune Video technology and how it works. A 1080p video stream, with only a 4Mbps connection, is something this industry has never seen. It really is a big deal.