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.