Microsoft has been working on new programs since 2005 to compete with Google and Yahoo, and it was only a matter of time before YouTube had a competitor. The time is now!
Being released only in a beta form to select testers until now, today Microsoft allowed anyone to try out the site by going to this website. In the same way YouTube does, it allows users to upload videos in almost any format, and tag or categorize them to allow for easy searching.
Their unique draw is that you can search for videos at the same time that you are watching one, something that you can't currently do on YouTube. With the YouTube loving generation wanting what they want when they want you, one can imagine this could be a popular feature, cutting down on the time spent finding the next great video. It also appears to have a more personal feel in comparison to Google and Yahoo, and is definitely more user friendly as it suggests videos constantly instead of requiring a search. Also, you can easily post videos on your website or blog using the standard permalinks and embed codes they have listed on their website, which you can either post or send to friends. Another interesting tidbit of information has come to light, that Soapbox will display videos in various formats dependent on your browser. For Internet Explorer it will use Microsoft's .wmv format, for other platforms it will use Adobe's Flash (formerly Macromedia Flash).
The issue of copyright will be interesting to watch, because Microsoft may be able to cut deals that YouTube wasn't able to, or perhaps vice versa. The success of Soapbox overall will depend on whether or not the YouTube trend is going to continue or not. If so, there's no reason why they couldn't both have thousands or millions of fans. Jumping into the ring when YouTube, Google video, Yahoo video, and Myspace video are already competing seems like it would tough to come from behind without any real innovation, but then again when has Microsoft ever completely failed at something? They will just find a way to integrate it into everything they already own.
In a day of being live, the most viewed videos have only been viewed a few thousand times, which causes me to wonder how much of a success it will be, but at first use Soapbox loads quickly and seems rather user friendly.