Microsoft has decided to terminate MSN Soapbox, their troubled entry in the personal video Web site space:
"We have decided to shut down the Soapbox feature," said Microsoft Vice President and MSN leader Erik Jorgensen in an e-mail. "Beginning today, July 21, we will be notifying both our customers and our internal and external partners that on July 29th, people will no longer be able to upload videos to Soapbox and on August 31st, the service will no longer be available."
Microsoft will continue to support MSN Video, which has 88 million unique users each month and delivers 480 million video streams each month, he said. Soapbox was responsible for less than 5 percent of MSN Video’s streams.
The hook for Soapbox was the social networking features, but apparently they were insufficient to lure the folks who love to video their personal whines for the delectation of others away from Google’s YouTube. Of course, it isn’t clear there is really a business in any of these video Web sites since YouTube is still finding it hard to make money with their overwhelming market share and many videos much more amenable to advertising than personal ramblings.
You don’t hear the term dancing baloney much anymore, but about a decade ago it was the standard description of gratuitous Web gadgetry that designers added to Web pages for no discernable purpose other than that they could. Microsoft yesterday announced a makeover of the formerly spartan Live Search home page and the only way I can classify it is as dancing baloney:
The new design features background images that will change frequently, augmented with what we call "hotspots." These interactive areas highlight parts of the image and help you explore search results related to the highlighted area. Users who have tested this new home page have found it both engaging and a great place to start a search.
Right now the background image seems to be from Botswana and the hidden hotspots reveal various Botswana related factoids. Apparently the "users who have tested this new home page" for Microsoft have a lot of time on their hands.
Speaking of home page makeovers, Microsoft is apparently also rolling out one for MSN, and while I detest the MSN home page heartily for its default mixture of supermarket checkout style celebrity news and cloying shopping and "self help" articles, this change looks more useful.
The good news that the new version (check it out here) adds a sidebar with a tabbed interface for Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces. The bad news is that also adds a player for MSN video with a default selection of "fun" videos which, as I write, features a man completely covered with tattoos. I guess it is someplace for the Live Search test users to go when they get tired of Botswana.
I see that I haven’t spared any pixels for MSN Soapbox, Microsoft’s YouTube clone, since it shut down temporarily in March due to the presence of the same copyright infringement problems that had Microsoft tut-tutting about YouTube. Apparently, Soapbox relaunched in April to little fanfare and ambled along in closed beta as before.
Sun’s JavaFX to take on AJAX, Silverlight in the Rich Internet Application (RIA) competition. I thought the days of slow, cheesy looking Java client apps were thankfully past, but I guess not. Hearing that “JavaFX Script leverages 2D graphics APIs in the Swing GUI toolkit” merely reminds me how awful Swing applications actually were. We’ll see if Sun can find a pony here with a scripting variant of Java, but I doubt it. While they were at it, Sun mostly open sourced Java.
Internet Explorer Developer Toolbar v1 released. I’ve long used something similar with FireFox, but one was really needed for IE.
SQL Server ‘Katmai’ Lacks Anticipated WinFS Features. Why spoil a perfect record? Related: David Boschmann explains Microsoft database projects Jasper and Astoria.
Microsoft publicly betas Tahiti, renamed SharedView. It’s a screen sharing program which up to 15 people can use for collaboration. There’s still no hint as to where it fits in the Microsoft galaxy of products although the original rumor was as part of Office Live.
Symantec attacks Microsoft’s Forefront Client Security. The fact that Forefront Client Security (for businesses) is using the same engine as the troubled OneCare consumer product leads to predictable snarking.
While it’s tempting to label the shows advertorials and leave it at that, Ben Silverman, Reveille’s chief executive, said he’s tried to find more elegant ways to incorporate products and entertainment.
I think Ron Popeil beat them to it.
Xbox Spring update released including Windows Live Messenger.
PS3 to ‘Win’ Console War Because of Blu-ray according to Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst.
Mac share of US Web surfers doubles in 8 months – it’s up to 6%