Microsoft’s Web video sharing competitor to YouTube and Google Video that was rumored a couple of weeks ago has been been formally unveiled at MSN Soapbox where you can sign up for an invitation to participate in the beta. This project (codenamed “Warhol”) had originally been expected to arrive as Windows Live Video, but apparently the “content” nature of even user created video was enough to push it under MSN Video as part of the MSN brand.
Besides basic video sharing, MSN Soapbox offers a variety of social networking trimmings so dear to the heart of Web 2.0 fans:
Like competing video-sharing services, Soapbox will allow users not only to upload videos to the Web in almost any digital video format, but also to tag and categorize them so other users can find them.
The service will let users both watch videos and browse for new ones simultaneously on the same screen, something that differentiates it from YouTube, Microsoft said.
Other features in Soapbox include the ability for users to set up RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds for videos in which they are interested, and to embed videos directly into their personal blogs. To achieve the latter, Microsoft eventually will set up one-click integration between Soapbox and Windows Live Spaces, letting users upload videos from Soapbox to their Windows Live Spaces pages by clicking on a button. Eventually, Soapbox will be integrated throughout many of Microsoft’s online services, which include Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Mail.
The Soapbox service will work with IE 6 or later browsers running on Windows XP, and the Firefox 1.0.5 browser or later running on Windows XP or Macintosh OS X.
There aren’t any ads visible on the beta screenshots I have seen and naturally my thoughts turned to monetization schemes. The above article by Elizabeth Montalbano at InfoWorld says:
Like its other Web-based services, Microsoft aims for Soapbox, too, to generate revenue by luring online advertisers, the company said. Though it won’t be ad supported in its initial release, Microsoft hopes the service will feature advertising down the line.
On the other hand, Elinor Mills at CNET says:
Unlike YouTube, Soapbox will have no advertisements, but Bennett said Microsoft can monetize the video by showing it on the main MSN Video site or by creating a “viral video hub.”
Why does this sound like monetization was an afterthought? I’m beginning to wonder if Microsoft really gets this ad supported software thing.
Some Microsoft news items from this week that did not find a post of their own:
Microsoft’s patches DRM with record speed, but FairUse4WM counters. This time the crack isn’t as extensive, but it’s enough to make record label and Microsoft execs very nervous.
In Windows Live news, Windows Live Messenger 8.1 beta is now available for invited testers, but MSN hasn’t been forgotten:
Former Microsoft security strategist Window Snyder is joining Mozilla to lead the company’s effort to protect its range of desktop applications from malicious hacker attacks. More details here.
Microsoft is planning to release a cheaper Xbox 360 in Japan in November. A November surprise to coincide with Sony’s PS3 launch is a nice idea, but it’ll take more than a cheap barebones unit to jumpstart the Xbox 360 in Japan.
Microsoft patents verb-conjugation technology. By way of LatestPatents.com, it is patent number 20060195313.
Update: Microsoft posted free add-ons for Office 2007 that allowed documents to be saved in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) and Microsoft’s XML Paper Specification (XPS) format. You may recall that the functionality was removed from Office 2007 after Adobe threatened to sue.
Rhys Blakely at the (U.K) Times reports that Microsoft set to launch YouTube challenge:
Microsoft is set to form an assault on video-sharing websites, including the hugely successful YouTube.com by launching a new service that will allow users to post their own web content, Times Online has learnt.
The Microsoft site will launch this summer as the world’s largest software developer moves to increase the reach of its MSN portal by tapping the explosive growth of social networking sites such as MySpace.com.
It will target users ranging from amateur documentary makers to aspiring pop stars and will earn revenues through advertising. Microsoft, which recently offered clips of World Cup coverage, is also planning to offer more conventional video content in areas such as comedy and extreme sports.
Details of the new service, which will be rolled out simultaneously in several territories, are yet to be finalised. However, a Microsoft executive told Times Online that the company is planning to launch a viral advertising campaign to publicise it “imminently”.
Nancy Gohring at InfoWorld – Yahoo introduces improved video service:
Yahoo on Thursday launched a new site designed to make it easier for Web users to find and share videos.
The site builds on Yahoo’s existing video search capability and will compete with video search services from Google, AOL, Microsoft’s MSN, and other video-sharing sites like YouTube.com and MySpace.com.
More on the new features by following the link, but I was mostly interested in the current state of play:
The popularity of online video is increasing and while all of the major search engines are active in the space, other sites are doing a better job of attracting users. YouTube.com attracted almost 43 percent and MySpace garnered 24 percent of visits to video Web sites during a week in May surveyed by Hitwise. Yahoo, MSN, Google, and AOL drew less than 10 percent each, according to the research.