On July 18, 2016, Microsoft announced that a preview version of a new service called Microsoft Stream was available. Like most of you, I passed over the news with an indifferent “whatever” attitude. But later I realized that the news was actually more important than I had first thought.

Microsoft Stream fulfills a niche by providing a secure place to share videos created within, and for, businesses. By using a cloud-based service like this, businesses can reap the benefits of video communication without the threat of anonymous forum trolls trashing the brand or harassing employees.

Upload and forget it

While it is still a preview version, Microsoft Stream seems mostly ready for prime time. All you have to do is set up an account with a valid business email–I used my personal domain email–and then log in. To test how easy Stream is to work with, I made a 10-second video of my cat with my Android smartphone. I uploaded it to Google Drive and then dragged and dropped it on the Stream portal website.

The web service processed the video while I gave it a title and a brief description. Stream then asked if I was ready to publish and when I said yes, it published the video after a few seconds of grinding. It took all of two minutes from start to finish and required nothing more technical than knowing how to drag and drop a file.

Gone are the days of worrying about file format, aspect ratio, preferred playback applications, and all the other minutia we had to go through in years past to get a video published. You just take the video and then publish the video.

SEE: Microsoft Office 365: The smart person’s guide

Video management

The key features of Microsoft Stream have to do with managing videos after they are published. Videos can be classified and placed into specific channels. Those channels can have their access restricted to certain individuals or certain groups, like a specific department, for instance. Access is controlled via the Azure Active Directory system.

According to the blog post, Microsoft plans to integrate Stream into the existing Office 365 Video system. Once the integration is complete, Microsoft Stream will be the default system for publishing video in an Office 365 environment.

There are plans in the works to add intelligent search to Stream by taking advantage of tools like audio transcription and face recognition. Developers are also working on ways to integrate Stream with other tools, like PowerApps, Microsoft Flow, and SharePoint.

Bottom line

In my previous article, I discussed Microsoft Bookings and how that application attempts to cut out other third-party developers by integrating appointment scheduling for small businesses with the standard Office 365 subscription. By offering Stream, a secure video publishing and management service, Microsoft is attempting to execute the same strategy for video publishing.

Microsoft Stream gives businesses a secure system for publishing videos. Through Stream, businesses control access and manage who can see what and when they can see it. And because it is all handled internally, problems with anonymous forum trolls are likely to be reduced.

As I said last week, it seems that Microsoft’s grand strategy is to become the only software company a business needs–ever. The glaring application that Office 365 is missing now is a double-entry accounting system that includes payroll, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and the general ledger. Should we be looking for an announcement regarding those applications soon, Microsoft?

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Your thoughts

How important is video communication in your enterprise? Has video become more prevalent lately? Share your opinions with fellow TechRepublic members.