Silvano Rebai - Fotolia

Microsoft Stream lacks key video content management tools

Despite its name, Microsoft Stream currently does not offer live streaming. The enterprise video service, launched last week, also lacks API support and analytics tools.

The latest version of Microsoft Stream -- which lets companies upload, share and manage video in Office 365 --...

lacks live streaming and other important enterprise features that analysts say make the video content management service incomplete.

Microsoft Stream launched out of beta last week, almost a year after introducing the service. Stream replaces Office 365 Video.

An important feature missing from Stream is the ability to broadcast live video, a capability businesses use for large meetings and employee training sessions. In the last quarter of 2016, 27% of organizations said they produced at least 50 live-streaming video events per year, according to a survey by Wainhouse Research, based in Duxbury, Mass. At the end of 2015, that number was 21%.

The lack of live streaming in Stream could drive users to other enterprise video content management services.

"Organizations wishing to deliver live streaming will continue to use or select a separate solution, such as an enterprise video content management system or Skype Meeting Broadcast, in combination with a third-party enterprise content delivery network," said Stephen Emmott, a Gartner analyst.

Skype Meeting Broadcast, part of Skype for Business, enables Office 365 users to produce and broadcast an online meeting with up to 10,000 attendees. Skype Meeting Broadcast allows users to host large virtual meetings, such as internal town-hall-style meetings and public webinars.  

No API support and sparse analytics tools

Microsoft Stream is also unable to ingest content from live video sources, according to Wainhouse analyst Steve Vonder Haar. For example, if you had a Skype for Business meeting, you couldn't capture content from it and have it go directly into the video content management service.

Stream also does not support APIs, but could in the future. Organizations wishing to use APIs for customization are at a loss until Microsoft can update Stream.

"For organizations who have introduced or seek customization and are willing to undertake development, it is important to investigate and monitor Stream's support for REST API," Emmott said.

Additionally, the current version of Microsoft Stream has sparse viewership analytics tools, which might not be an issue for some organizations, especially if the service currently lacks live-streaming capabilities.

However, the lack of analytics could be an issue for other organizations. Networking staff, for instance, would need analytics to monitor and resolve quality-of-service issues, Emmott said.

The lack of analytics is not necessarily a deal-breaker for an application that's focused internally, Vonder Haar said. But the analytics is "something you would like to see from a fully baked solution."

Video search and transcription questioned

Vonder Haar was also skeptical about Stream's ability to deliver on video transcription. Accurately transcribing spoken words within a video is important, because it produces text that people can search for and find videos.

But, right now, Stream's video transcription is unproven, since there hasn't been much hands-on use of the product, he said.

To add to the skepticism, Emmott said Stream could fall victim to the issues that all video search tools do. "In terms of accuracy," he said, "the performance of all video search is affected by noise, language and accent."

Microsoft will need to improve Stream to compete effectively in the streaming business video market. The global video streaming software market is expected to grow from $3.25 billion in 2017 to $7.50 billion by 2022, according to MarketsandMarkets. Competitors in the video content management market -- including Brightcove, Kaltura, MediaPlatform, Panopto and VBrick -- already have some of the features that Microsoft Stream lacks.

Next Steps

Live video streaming is part of the UC stack.

Live broadcast streaming should see uptick.

Microsoft revamps Teams webinars

Dig Deeper on Business Video Conferencing and Telepresence Technology