SEATTLE: Computer software titan Microsoft is jumping on the successful bandwagon of cult video sharing website YouTube by offering its own version, Soapbox, on MSN video.

The new service, currently being tested, will allow web users to watch and post videos, rate or comment on them and share favorites by e-mailing them or linking them to their personal pages or blogs.

The company acknowledges its biggest rivals, namely search giants Google and Yahoo, have already stolen a march but believes there is "still plenty of room to innovate".

Avers MSN general manager Rob Bennett: "It's really early days in online video; this is still act one."

Soapbox's money-making potential is still to be crystallized. Bennett says the company is considering various options for incorporating advertising, including posting ads directly on pages with videos or hosting advertiser-sponsored contests that seek video contributions from users.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff