The market for streaming video has enjoyed healthy growth in recent years. Consumers enjoy the convenience of renting unlimited movies from Netflix, while businesses can use cloud storage services to build rich content into their websites. The service can also be a cost-effective way for large organizations to deploy educational material and ensure that employees always have access to a comprehensive knowledge base.

The market may become more competitive in the near future, as Microsoft targets media in its cloud offering portfolio. The company announced the availability of Windows Azure Media Services, which is designed to facilitate the process of encoding video for numerous devices.

“As a developer, you can control Windows Azure Media Services by using REST APIs or .NET and Java SDKs to build a media workflow that can automatically upload, encode and deliver video,” Scott Guthrie, vice president for Microsoft Server and Tools Business, wrote in a blog post. “We’ve also developed a broad set of client SDKs and player frameworks which let you build completely custom video clients that integrate in your applications. This allows you to configure and control every aspect of the video playback experience, including inserting pre-roll, mid-roll, post-roll and overlay advertisement into your content.”

The service has already received commendation from technology journalists. TechTarget’s Alex Williams noted that it is increasingly critical for cloud platforms to support a high level of flexibility and interoperability. According to Williams, this creates an environment that enables the most sophisticated software engineering.

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