Allchin 200 Million Windows Vista Users in 24 Months

In an open letter to developers Microsoft Co. President of Platforms and Services Division Jim Allchin predicted that there would be more than 200 million people using Windows Vista within two years of its January 2007 launch. This, he says, is an opportunity that hasn't arisen since Windows 95, which was released over 11 years ago.

"We are very close to being done," Allchin wrote. Are you ready for Windows Vista? We know the world is Barring any unforeseen quality issues such as bugs around data corruption resiliency or security we remain on track for business availability of Windows Vista later this year with our consumer launch in January.

In the letter, Allchin calls on developers to start developing software that is new compelling and cool. More than 1000 companies are engaged in our early adopter programs and some of the initial work I've seen has simply blown me away. People will just love these applications from new DirectX 10 games to cool Sidebar gadgets to new rich visual enterprise applications. For examples of these types of solutions he points developers to a showcase of Vista applications at the URL below.

Aside from the message to developers Mr. Allchin appears to be sending a message to everyone who's following the development of Microsoft's latest OS Vista is on track and will ship according to the company's publicly divulged schedule. The time we ship is very soon he concludes. This timeframe has been corroborated by my contacts. I'm told that Microsoft will ship a final external prerelease version of Vista, probably build, 5728 sometime this week and then finalize the product in October. Microsoft still plans to ship volume licensed versions of Vista to business customers in November and will launch the product to consumers in January.

Microsoft YouTube MeToo 

Microsoft announced today that it's rolling out a limited public beta test of an upcoming service called Soapbox on MSN Video that will compete with YouTube and Google Video, offering consumers a place to share and enjoy video clips. Like the competition, Soapbox will let people rate videos and link to them from their own Web sites.

Soapbox delivers on a critical component of the MSN growth strategy of deepening audience engagement by enabling people to participate in the content experience says General Manager of Entertainment and Video Services for MSN Rob Bennett. By adding a user uploaded video service we are rounding out our existing investments in commercially produced and original content on MSN Video.

I spoke with Mr. Bennett about Soapbox recently, and although Microsoft is a bit late to the shared video arena the service looks strong. Video uploading is much simpler than on similar sites and Soabox's unique layout and UI makes it easier to find and share videos and doesn't require you to navigate away from the video that's currently playing. The community of Soapbox users can also take advantage of unique features such as tagging and emailing videos. YouTube looks pretty primitive by comparison.

Functionality aside, YouTube is still the market leader. Is there a place for Soapbox in what is suddenly a pretty crowded market? Microsoft points to the 465 million unique users that MSN garners each month suggesting that Soapbox will appeal to users who are more mainstream than the often techie crowds that frequent other similar services. And MSN Video already has more than 11 million unique users each month. Certainly Microsoft's reach is an interesting advantage though YouTube does draw more than 30 million viewers a month.

Also, give Microsoft a bit of credit for compatibility. Soapbox will accept a wide variety of video formats for upload and is compatible with Mac OS X and Mozilla's Firefox as well as Windows and Microsoft Internet Explorer IE.

Currently, Soapbox is available as an invitation only beta but Microsoft expects to roll out a widespread public beta version soon.