Microsoft NetShow Server

Definition of Microsoft NetShow Server in The Network Encyclopedia.

What is Microsoft NetShow Server?

The server site of the Microsoft NetShow client/server streaming media delivery system. NetShow Server is implemented as a series of Microsoft Windows NT services that can deliver streaming audio, video, and other files over TCP/IP networks (such as the Internet) to NetShow Player clients.

How it works

NetShow Server can deliver streaming media content in two ways:

  • Unicasting:
    NetShow Server sends a separate copy of the data to any client that requests it. Unicasting involves computers establishing a two-way, point-to-point connection. The advantage of unicasting streaming media content is that the client can communicate with the server that supplies the multimedia stream. For example, the client can request that the server pause the stream. The disadvantage is that each client requires a separate stream, which can rapidly use up available bandwidth.


  • Multicasting:
    NetShow Server sends a single copy of the data to all clients that request it. Multicasting involves a server sending a single copy of the data stream over the network to multiple clients. The advantage of multicasting streaming data is that only one copy of the data is sent over the network, which uses much less bandwidth than unicasting. The disadvantage is that multicasting is connectionless, so clients have no control over the streams they receive.


NetShow Server can deliver content either live or on demand. Live content is delivered in conjunction with the NetShow Real-Time Encoder, which compresses the audio/video feed in real time before passing it to NetShow Server for delivery.


The client side of the NetShow client/server streaming media delivery system, NetShow Player, can receive streaming media content from NetShow Server and display it for users.


You cannot use multicasting unless the routers on your network support multicasting. Unlike broadcasts, routers can control where multicasts travel on a network. If clients are behind a firewall, you can configure NetShow channels to offer clients unicasts instead of multicasts.