Way back in 2006, Microsoft launched what it hoped would be a serious competitor to YouTube with Soapbox, a service featuring user-generated video alongside MSN Video’s existing original and commercial programming. Soapbox was supposed to feature simple tools for sharing and rating content, but never really caught on with users. Microsoft recently announced it was planning to retool the site into a more focused service for bloggers, video journalists, and videographers, but apparently those plans have been cancelled: according to the company, Soapbox will be gone on August 31, 2009.
Microsoft plans to shut off the ability upload videos to Soapbox effective July 29, 2009; the company is encouraging any Soapbox users to download their videos off Soapbox by August 31 if they would like to keep them.
Microsoft had been expanding some of Soapbox’s features, adding support for additional video codecs, embedded RSS players, expandable screensizes, and showcases of popular videos. Microsoft hasn’t revealed any user base numbers for Soapbox, but does say that MSN Video overall has more than 88 million users who watch nearly half a billion video streams every month. Even by conservative estimates, those numbers represent only a small fraction of YouTube’s total monthly video streaming.