Microsoft closing YouTube rival

The software company already was paring down its Soapbox video site, but now it says it'll be eliminated altogether.

Microsoft Vice President and MSN leader Erik Jorgensen Microsoft

Microsoft is closing Soapbox, its onetime video-sharing rival to Google's YouTube, the company said Tuesday.

Last month, Microsoft told CNET News it planned to significantly scale back Soapbox. Now it turns out Soapbox will be scaled all the way down to nothing.

"We have decided to shut down the Soapbox feature," said Microsoft Vice President and MSN leader Erik Jorgensen in an e-mail. "Beginning today, July 21, we will be notifying both our customers and our internal and external partners that on July 29th, people will no longer be able to upload videos to Soapbox and on August 31st, the service will no longer be available."

Microsoft will continue to support MSN Video, which has 88 million unique users each month and delivers 480 million video streams each month, he said. Soapbox was responsible for less than 5 percent of MSN Video's streams.

"Though we'll be retiring the Soapbox service in its current form, we are committed to user-generated content and our other video offerings through MSN Video," Jorgensen said. "We also plan to add functionality into MSN Video to easily enable bloggers and citizen journalists to upload content to share with our MSN users. Video remains an important and growing area within our overall content strategy."

Microsoft launched soapbox in 2006, but it never caught on as widely as YouTube. Google's in-house offering, Google Video, didn't either, but Google has chosen to support it.

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