Can a hardened server play a SharePoint 2010 Silverlight Media Web Part?

The answer, obviously enough, is that it can if it has Silverlight installed. Read on if you’re interested in how the web part will behave in its absence.

Last week we built a Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V host that we used for our SharePoint 2010 launch event at Microsoft London. We were practicing the demonstration from connected Windows 7 laptops but we also wanted to understand the limitations of presenting from the host itself, should something go wrong with the networking. For the most part this worked fine, but we ran in to problems when we tried to run the media web part. The dialogue box would pop up as normal, but there was no option to Play. If I clicked View I would be prompted to download the .WMV file. At this point I realised that this hardened server did not have the Desktop Experience enabled, so it didn’t have a default media player.

After installing the Desktop Experience and rebooting (note: this does a few reboots), the pop-up looked the same; the Play button was still missing. Now if I clicked View it would launch in Windows Media Player.

Eventually it occurred to me that the server might be missing Silverlight. We install it by default, so it took some time for me to catch on. I checked the installed updates and sure enough, it was missing. When I tried to run Windows Update it revealed that Silverlight was the only availably update. I tried to install it and I quickly got error 80244019. Searching for a solution suggested a few possible answers – mostly network/DNS-related. To expedite things I visited the Silverlight site and installed it manually. I believe the problem may have been DNS or proxy-related but since all other Windows updates installed fine it’s a bit of a mystery.

Installing Silverlight manually did the trick. The Play option returned in the pop-up and video played normally. Out of curiosity I removed the Desktop Experience and tested again. Everything continued to work normally. All of this is totally clear in retrospect, but with the new technology cocktail that is SharePoint 2010, Silverlight 3, IE8 and Windows Server 2008 R2, it’s easy enough to loose sight of the obvious.

6 thoughts on “Can a hardened server play a SharePoint 2010 Silverlight Media Web Part?”

  1. Sounds good. It’s great how there’s always someone talking/blogging about the exact subject that interests you – so thanks for taking the time! I’m just an average user unfortunately but I’m looking to attend some events soon to see how to make more use of SharePoint when we migrate.

  2. Tristan, I have a client site that we have fully migrated to SP2010 (with Commerce Server 2009), and I am having a lot of problems with all external media (images, video, and audio). Because the client has large amounts of all 3 types, we recommended that he use sites like PhotoBucket, MetaCafe, and Podbean to store his files (to save on hosted storage costs). But I am close to running into a deadend trying to integrate the media with standard web parts (I could use a content editor part and embed links, but that is unwieldy for them to maintain).

    Any ideas or suggestions?

    1. I think for images you should be fine in SharePoint. For other media files you might want to look at IIS Media Services. You can also get pretty far within SharePoint, particularly if you’re using the BLOB Cache, although it sounds like budgetary constraints may prevent that.

      What are the problems you’re having with the web parts? This isn’t really may area of expertise, but happy to share my thoughts.

      1. Thanks for you reply. My client is a fishing outfitter in Ontario, CA, with a number of lodges and cabins. The reason I’m using 3rd party hosting sites is that he has the following number of files, and growing every day:

        Audio mp3 (podcast) — ~200 of average 6 minute duration
        Video (various formats and bitrates) — ~8 hours
        Photos (various resolutions) — ~40,000

        The media viewer web part works OK if I put in a web part for each file, which is unwieldy. It also works OK (opens a Media Player on the desktop) if I put individual hyperlinks to every file, which has the same maintenance issues. With the external media, the problem I run nito is that any “Media and Content” web parts that can handle the files (.mp3, .wmv) won’t play them, and when I try to link, say, audio with an RSS feed, all the link does is toggle the description of the feed.

        Tristan, I appreciate any feedback you may have and the time you’re taking to read this, but I think I need to get into MSDN or Technet and pose this question. I haven’t seen any topics out there yet with regards to external media for SP2010 — anything I’ve found is “SP2007”, and really doesn’t apply.

        Thanks,
        Joel

  3. Hi Joel,

    Not sure I can be of much help there. I think you’re probably looking at some custom dev to present that data in the way you’re tying to do it, but this is definitely outside of my domain expertise.

    Cheers,

    Tristan

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