While it is currently by invitation only, Monday night, Microsoft released a beta version of Soapbox to compete with the highly successful YouTube. Currently you can request an invitation; however, when clicking the link I was presented with an error “Oops. It’s not anything you did–it’s us. Our site’s down. Please try again later.” No real surprise here, after all it is a Microsoft Beta.

YouTube is the ultimate video sharing venue attracting 34 million visitors in August according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Users worldwide can upload and share their videos in just about every category imaginable.

How big will soapbox get? Well, YouTube has exploded on the web, and certainly a property owned by Microsoft will have the same potential. Whether or not they will be able to surpass YouTube will have to wait to be seen. Currently in Beta, as with many other online Microsoft properties, it could be years until soapbox is officially released, (although I would expect it to be live sooner than later).

Interestingly enough, the soapbox name is previously trademarked by a messaging company Conversant. It will be interesting to see what happens in the future, will Microsoft change the name? Will they buy them out? Will lawsuits be in the future? I am a bit surprised that a company such as Microsoft which attacks anyone infringing on their own trademarks, would wind up infringing on someone else. You think they would do their research.