Microsoft Lifts Video Onto A Soapbox

    September 19, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

The company released a beta version of its YouTube competitor called Soapbox to users of MSN Video, and noted it will be integrated with various services like Windows Live Spaces and Live Messenger.

Microsoft Lifts Video Onto A Soapbox
MSN Joins The Online Video Revolution

The older techies out there probably recognize the classic Microsoft strategy at work with their announcement of Soapbox, a video sharing service presently available only in a limited invitation-only beta currently.

This is the 21st Century version of Microsoft’s mid-1990’s strategy, where the company would see a market develop with another company leading the way. Soon they would announce a forthcoming Microsoft entry into that market, and plenty of hype would bubble up despite Microsoft not actually having a shipping product yet.

It was enough to have an impact on a few markets as purchasers delayed their buying decisions to see what Microsoft would release. What worked ten years ago may not be as successful today, but Microsoft is trying anyway.

Visiting the Soapbox site brings up what must be the embeddable media player and a short clip of the MSN butterfly dude grooving on a darkened dance floor. It’s enough to bring out the evil lepidopterist in anyone.

Those who are interested can sign up for an invitation from Microsoft to try out Soapbox. Microsoft detailed some of the features of Soapbox in a statement:

Easy uploading and sharing of video creations. By providing single-step uploading, background server-side video processing and acceptance of all major digital video formats, Soapbox makes uploading videos a snap.

Finding and discovering the most entertaining videos. Viewers can search, browse through 15 categories, find related videos, subscribe to RSS feeds, and share their favorites with their friends – all without interrupting whatever video they are watching.

Participation in the Soapbox community. Soapbox users can rate, comment on and tag the videos they view, share links with their friends via e-mail, and include the embeddable Soapbox player directly on their Web site or blog.

Can Microsoft build a better YouTube? It’s likely that Microsoft may have an advantage in securing relationships with content providers like music labels and Hollywood studios, thanks to the Windows DRM scheme many use with their content.

Microsoft has the contacts that could take YouTube’s experiment with branded channels a step further, since they already work with MTV and its Urge music store. A few content channels that drive traffic to Urge, coupled with participation from ordinary users, may make Soapbox a draw for some of Microsoft’s potential audience.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.