The recent addition of the video portal to SharePoint Online comes with some goods::
- First of all, it responds to a common need for organizations that ensure communication more and more via videos.
- It is using Windows Azure Media Services to ensure video encoding and to deliver smooth streaming and this for no additional cost
- The portal is integrated with Yammer and allows to easily share a video with all the common social capabilities such as like/reply etc..This will really rock when Office 365 and Yammer will share the same accounts as announced recently by Microsoft.
but also some bads:
- It’s using Flash for the player with no fallback mechanism to HTML5. Ok, HTML5 video control is not capable to handle smooth streaming, only progressive download but isn’t it better than receiving a You must install Adobe Flash Player message?
- For the time being, it does not seem mobile friendly although Microsoft says so. I think it’s not because of Flash that is not installed on iPad and iPhone and also because it is not responsive from a UI perspective. I tried with iPhone & iPad and it’s just showing the regular desktop view. I couldn’t find any specific App to browse the portal.
- There is no mention of any CDN or proximity mechanism that ensures a fast delivery of a video according to where the consumer is. The user experience is likely to be dramatically different whether you are in Asia, America or Europe for the same tentant which is already the case with emails etc…but the latency problem is often much more visible with video related content. Of course, enterprises can envision having multiple tenants to cover this aspect but it increases costs and I’m not sure at this stage whether the underlying WAAMS is in the same region as its associated Office 365 tenant even if that makes sense.
Another thing that is a strength but also a weakness is that this video portal is quite basic. It’s a strength in the sense that users can easily get started with it but it’s a weakness if you want to have more control over your videos. A useful addition could be statistical information about how videos are watched, meaning, are videos watched until the end or until the middle etc…
Of course, this is a first release and overall, it’s rather good. Microsoft plans to add more exciting features soon so stay tunned!