Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash

Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe

Office 365 video portal

Microsoft has added a video portal to Office 365, enabling users to upload and share videos. The service will be in preview soon, and available to all customers with the right kind of subscription in early 2015.

So what is the point, when YouTube does this so well? The idea is to manage internal videos with permissions based on Azure Active Directory, the directory for all Office 365 users. Videos are organised into channels, and each channel has edit and view permissions which admins assign to Office 365 users or groups. Typical uses would be for training, presentations, or announcements.

Office 365 video portal

The video portal appears as a tab for users logged into Office 365 in a web browser, or you can select it from the Office 365 app launcher, a kind of online Start menu. Users upload videos by selecting a channel, then selecting a video with a file chooser, or by drag and drop. Multiple uploads are supported.

Add a description, wait for Azure Media Services to process it, and the video is ready to go. Video channels support “spotlights videos” to enable promotion of specific titles. Videos are stored in SharePoint Online, and there is a storage quota set through SharePoint online administration.

A snag with the current implementation is that Adobe Flash is required:

“Office 365 Video uses Adobe Flash Player for adaptive streaming and secure video delivery. To watch a video, you have to have Adobe Flash Player installed.”

Most mobile devices do not support Flash. That said, Microsoft’s puff also states:

“People will be able to view and share videos within Office 365 on any device. They can easily navigate the home page and channels to find and view content, and even upload new videos from their device. We’ll share more news in the next few months about how you can best interact with your video portal from your mobile device.”

Microsoft’s use of the future tense suggests that mobile support will not be part of the initial preview.

The Office 365 video portal ties into a couple of other services. Videos are discoverable via Office Delve, a search service which draws on the Office Graph (a social graph based on a user’s connections and activity) to surface the most relevant results. Users can also easily post a video on Yammer, Microsoft’s business-oriented social network.

Since the service is based on Azure Media Services, it supports the same video codecs, a broad range including H.264, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC-1, DV, HQ and HQX. Audio can be AC-3 (Dolby Digital), AAC, MP3 or WMA. Supported file formats include .asf, .avi, .mod, .mts, .vob, .mp4, .mpg and .wmv.

Office 365 video is only available in the Enterprise (E1, E2, E3 and E4) or Academic (A2, A3 and A4) plans. The Business plans, designed for small organisations, are not included.

The promo video for the new service is of course hosted by YouTube.®

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