A   S t r e a m i n g   M e d i a   P r i m e r :    
W H A T   I S   S T R E A M I N G   M E D I A ?
online and plan to spend even more.  The study concludes that when Web sites integrate 
 DOWNLOAD  DEFINED
streaming media into their content, they  will attract more of these potentially high 
value customers. In an even more recent study,  Startling New Insights about the 
 Uploading  and  downloading  mean 
Internet and Streaming, 
9
 published in September 2000, Arbitron/Edison Media 
transferring data from one computer to 
Research tell us that 56% of Streamies have made an online purchase, spending a mean 
another. The two words have the same 
amount of $768 per year online, as opposed to 33% of non streamies making online 
relationship as exporting and importing 
purchases with mean online spending at $596 per year.
 the correct choice depends on which 
side of the border you're on. Uploading 
The advantages of streaming outweigh its shortcomings 
is sending, or exporting, data from one 
Quality concerns will continue to challenge media streamed over the public Internet, 
computer to another; downloading is 
until broadband is ubiquitous. Even now, however, streaming offers distinct advantages 
retrieving, or importing data from one 
that other methods of media delivery do not provide: 
computer to another.
   No waiting for complete downloads well, not  much  waiting, anyway.
Here's where it gets a little confusing 
  Streamed fi les are not written to disk they are processed and played as they are 
Whenever you import data from one 
received, then discarded, leaving no residual copy of the content on the receiving 
computer to another, you are, technically 
speaking, downloading. As you have 
device, and thereby alleviating copyright concerns.
already learned, streaming means that 
   Streaming is capable of conveying live events around the globe in near real time.
the fi le is processed and played as it 
   Supports interactivity, allowing content to be experienced in a non linear 
is received i.e., downloaded and then 
the content is discarded. So, even though 
manner. Video on demand, for example, can be chapterized, allowing users 
you have downloaded a fi le, it will not 
to jump to desired portions.  
and cannot be saved to your hard drive.
   Streaming content is an excellent way to enhance otherwise static Web sites.
However... in common usage,  down 
loading  has come to mean receiving and  
WHAT MAKES STREAMING MEDIA DIFFERENT?
saving data to your hard drive. When you 
save, or write a fi le to disk, if it has 
not been  locked  or otherwise secured 
Traditional download makes you wait
against tampering, and if you have the 
The Internet and downloadable media formats have brought end users access to a wide 
appropriate software application, you 
range of multimedia content published on the World Wide Web. But, in a narrowband 
could alter the fi le and/or redistribute it.
world (as of this writing, most Internet users are still connecting at speeds of 56Kbps 
So a distinction has been drawn between 
or lower), downloading large media fi les is quite tedious and, very often, inconvenient. 
 downloading  and  streaming.  While 
It goes like this: Just click on a link to the fi le; choose  Save As;  designate a destination 
 traditional download  and  progressive 
folder on your hard drive; and then  wait  as  the  fi le  is  down  load  
download  both result in media fi les 
ed .  You have to wait for the entire download to fi nish and that could be minutes or 
being written to disk (i.e., saved on 
even hours before you can see or hear what you downloaded. So you might spend a 
the end user's hard drive), when you 
lot of time downloading media fi les, only to fi nd that when you play them, they are not 
receive (i.e.,  download ) streaming fi les, 
what you really wanted or expected. . 
the media content is not saved.
 Until recently, audio and video on the Web was primarily a download and play technology. 
You had to fi rst download an entire media fi le before it could play. It was like pouring milk into 
a glass and then drinking it. But because media fi les are usually very large and take a long time 
to download, the only content found on the Web was short 30 second clips often even shorter. 
Even these fi les could take 20 minutes or longer to download. In other words, it took a long 
time to pour the milk, and then it would barely quench your thirst  Watching audio and 
namic Media
video fi les that stream is more like drinking straight from the carton; streaming media fi les begin 
y
playing almost immediately, while the data is being sent, without having to wait for the whole 
fi le to download. Other than a few seconds of delay before the fi le starts to play, you don't have to 
wait to start watching, no matter if the fi le lasts 30 seconds or 30 minutes.  
obe D
d
 Microsoft Windows Technologies Web Site
10
A
5
9    Startling New Insights About the Internet and Streaming',  Arbitron/Edison Media Research, September 2000, PDF available at http://www.arbitron.com or http://www.edisonresearch.com
10  http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/en/compare/webservvstreamserv.asp
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