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Microsoft has added live broadcasting software to Microsoft Stream and integrated the service with Yammer and Microsoft Teams. The move should help Microsoft compete against main rival Cisco, which has made the video platform Webex the centerpiece of its collaboration portfolio.
The vendor will soon give Microsoft Teams users the ability to host one-to-many live events from within the team collaboration app. The feature, released in preview this week, will eventually replace Skype Meeting Broadcast, although Microsoft did not provide a timeline for that transition.
Enterprises can use the live broadcasting software added to Microsoft Stream this week in a variety of ways. For example, companies could use the software to conduct in-house town halls or product launches.
Microsoft Stream works with webcams and lets presenters share files and their screens while attendees comment in real time. Microsoft has also partnered with video encoding vendors, including Telestream and Haivision, so that businesses can integrate Stream with third-party cameras.
Microsoft plans to give more customers access to advanced AI features in Stream later this quarter, including automated, searchable, speech-to-text transcripts. Stream also uses facial recognition to identify speakers, creating an interactive list of speakers that viewers can use to navigate the recording.
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The enterprise market for live broadcasting software is crowded with vendors, from consumer options like YouTube and Venmo to pure-play webcasting services like On24 and TalkPoint. Most web conferencing platforms, such as Cisco Webex and Zoom, can also host webinars.
Microsoft is trying to stand out by offering an integrated portfolio that connects the live events of Microsoft Stream with collaboration apps like Microsoft Teams. Combining the software makes sense because businesses already use Teams for messaging and online meetings, according to Adam Preset, an analyst at Gartner.
"Technology vendors that can keep their customers inside an ecosystem can add more value if everything works together nicely," Preset said. "That can also displace competitors who would have a tougher time breaking in even if their solutions are more mature or stronger in other areas."
Stream's integration with Microsoft Teams means that messages and content related to both daily work and company-wide meetings will exist in the same place, making it easier to start and continue conversations stemming from those live events, Preset said.
Cisco has also sought to provide a one-stop-shop for collaboration by merging its team collaboration app, Cisco Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark), with its industry-leading web conferencing platform, Cisco Webex.
Skype for Business customers that use that platform's live broadcasting feature will soon be forced to transition to Microsoft Stream. However, Microsoft's recently demonstrated willingness to open the Teams platform to developers could lead to other live broadcasting services being integrated with the product.
"The pool of people running large events in Skype Meeting Broadcast isn't as large as those using Skype for Business Online for daily messaging and meetings," Preset said. "That smaller set of event organizers will be looking at a large set of alternatives for delivering broadcasts."