Microsoft Takes on YouTube

Well, they don’t aim low, do they. Microsoft has announced the public beta of a video sharing Web site called MSN Soapbox. Notice the word “Live” is nowhere in the title of this property.

The front page of the site is framed so it’s a little hard to see everything at once. You can browse most popular videos or explore a (rather anemic) tag cloud. Navs on the left also allow you to browse recently-added videos, most-commented, top-favorites, top-rated, etc. The videos are listed with title, thumbnail, and a couple of bits of information depending on how you’re viewing them (number of comments, star rating, when it was added to the site, etc.)

I must say I like how this is laid out better than YouTube. Click on a video and it loads at the right of the screen instead of going to a new page. Information about the video is contained in several tabs beneath the video, including comments, details, tags, and information on embedding a video into your Web site. (This tab also contains the direct link to the video, which is necessary because the frames make it otherwise difficult to get a direct URL.)

If you don’t want to browse videos, you can also do a keyword search. Keyword-based RSS feeds are available — look for the AMAZINGLY TEENY RSS orange logo in the top right corner of the search results. There are also feeds for the popular categories.

To upload a video or add comments or flag a video as offensive or basically do anything but look at videos, you’ll have to have a Windows Live ID. For additional information about the site there’s a FAQ as well as a blog . I like the layout of the site and the load time, and the RSS feeds for the results (though I wish they were a little more visible.) If you like YouTube, take a look.

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Categories: News