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Gets off its Soapbox

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Last month, Microsoft said it would "significantly scale back" its YouTube-mimicking Soapbox service. And now, true to its word, Redmond has scaled the service back so significantly, it will soon cease to exist.

As first reported by CNET News, Microsoft is completely closing the video-sharing site on August 31. Beginning on July 29, Redmond tells us, Soapbox will no longer accept uploaded videos.

"We encourage any Soapbox user that wants to keep their videos to download them off of Soapbox prior to August 31.," Microsoft says. "We will be communicating to our valued Soapbox community using several different methods to ensure that people are able to keep any video that is important to them."

Microsoft launched Soapbox in September 2006, days before Google trumpeted its $1.65bn purchase of YouTube. Then, just six months later, Redmond barred new users from the service as it installed anti-piracy filters. After another two months, the site reopened in full, but it never really got to the point where the average webizen even knew it existed.

As expected, the ongoing economic Meltdown has forced Redmond to trim some of its "Web 2.0" fat, and Soapbox certainly classifies as fat.

Initially, Redmond said it would reinvent Soapbox as a site where "bloggers and citizen journalists can post videos relevant to areas in which MSN focuses, categories like entertainment, lifestyle, and finance." But it seems this was merely a euphemism for "Yes, we're shutting the thing down."

But Microsoft wants you to know that it still believes in online video. "Online video will remain a key part of the MSN offering," the company says. "MSN Video has 88M unique users around the world, who watch 480M video streams each month. We remain committed to delivering amazing experiences for consumers while keeping a keen eye on our business objectives during this tough economic climate." ®

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