Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Channel 9 on dial-up

In case you haven’t come across it before, Channel 9 is a rather cool project from the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) that offers various resources, such as videos, a moblog, a wiki and forums, which allow you to look behind the scenes at how Microsoft works. Recent videos have included interviews with Rebecca Norlander, the group manager in charge of getting Windows XP SP2 out of the door, Robert Hess who evangelises Windows products (and especially Longhorn) and Robert Williams, an executive on the Tablet PC Team.
Now, from what I’ve described in the first paragraph, you’d expect this all to be a broadband-only portal, where you need a whopping great connection to the internet to be able to watch any of the videos. But no. They actually play pretty well on 56k dial-up.
I’m serious. They use Windows Media 9, which must have some kind of content negotiation based on connection speeds. A 56k user will get a smaller version of the video, and may find that the picture momentarily freezes from time-to-time, but the sound is consistent throughout. It’s probably helped by the fact that the camera is held in place (lossy video formats usually work best when showing low amounts of motion because then the difference between frames is less and therefore less needs to be encoded, resulting in a smaller file size and lower bandwidth requirement… phew) and that there tends not to be much motion in the videos anyway, other than the interviewee’s mouth moving. But still, I’m impressed that such good quality video could fit through such a narrowband connection.
On a slightly related note, fingers crossed this will be the last ever week I have to use dial-up.

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