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Microsoft's Clipchamp video editing tools are underbaked, and offensively overpriced

Clipchamp Interface
Clipchamp Interface (Image credit: Windows Central)

Remember the good old days when if you wanted to edit a string of clips together for a fun social video, you just pulled up the free and simple Windows Movie Maker and you were good to go? There's a reason that, even now, people seek out Windows Movie Maker 2.6 over some of the garbage solutions Microsoft has offered since. Movie Maker was stable. It was easy to use. And hey, it was free too! What a shocker.

Fast forward to 2022, and we have a weird side-feature of the Photos app in Windows 10 and Windows 11. Which is sluggish, clunky, crashy, and lacks many of the modern features you might expect from competing solutions. Indeed, it has become easier to make short social clips on my damned phone than it is on full-blown Windows 11. Samsung's video editor on Android is better than Windows 11's Photos app (and Clipchamp, really). And if you want to pay a little extra, you can buy a lifetime license for an app like InShot on Android and iOS, which is leaps and bounds ahead of anything Microsoft has ever produced in this area.

A few months ago, Microsoft purchased nascent web-based video editor Clipchamp, which was a promising sign that they were going to start taking their built-in video editing tools more seriously. Alas, the latest Windows 11 Insider Build suggests that not only is Microsoft not serious, they also, hilariously, may eventually want you to pay a monthly fee for features that are, as of now, free.

Clipchamp 2022 is overpriced like crazy

Clipchamp Lede

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The video editing situation on Windows is a trash fire.

When Clipchamp was first acquired by Microsoft, I was optimistic. While the tools were (and are) utterly basic, and the app is very hard-capped and will cause your browser to crash if you put too many clips into it, I thought it was cause for optimism that Microsoft was taking Apple's in-box iMovie and apps like Final Cut Pro a little more seriously.

Indeed, video editing is one of the main reasons people in our wider company opt for Mac over Windows. I know all too well the pain of Adobe Premier crashing in the middle of a big project, and the irritation of having to switch between gaming graphics drivers and Adobe's NVIDIA studio drivers. The video editing situation on Windows is a trash fire, and Microsoft sat up today and decided "let's make it worse."

Clipchamp is a decent and extremely basic video editing tool that is web-based. Some people are irritated that it's web-based, and not that it's native UWP, but I think we all know that UWP is effectively dead at this point. I agree with my colleague Sean Endicott that it's essentially fine that Clipchamp is web-based, if Microsoft can solve the issues around it breaking Edge when you put too many clips into it ...

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... What isn't fine is the pricing structure. For its quality and its feature set, Clipchamp is absurdly overpriced. Sickeningly overpriced. Only Adobe can get away with these kinds of prices, because of its business-grade features. What does Clipchamp consider to be business-grade?

Clipchamp thinks that 1080p exports are "business-grade" at $19 per month, which is absolutely laughable — I'd go as far to call it offensive. A clown businessman thought that that $9 per month is good value for 720p exports. Remember 720p TVs? Me neither. Clipchamp sure does though, and Microsoft thinks you're dumb enough to pay for these features which were, previously, free as part of the Windows 10 and 11 Photos app. For free, with Clipchamp, you get badass "unlimited" 480p exports. Gee, how generous. I'll just fire up TikTok on my cathode-ray tube monitor and have a blast.

Integrate it with Office 365


Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Microsoft seemed to hint in a previous blogpost that Clipchamp would be integrated into Office 365, and perhaps that is still the plan. Rolling it into the subscription fee of Office 365 absolutely would be the most sensical way forward, given how basic and generally bad Clipchamp is as a service. There isn't a universe that exists where $9 per month is a worthy fee for 720p exports, with such a laughably basic toolset, that doesn't even work on Android — Microsoft's de facto mobile platform. I don't even need it to be the best video editing tool for Windows — I'd settle for something that is at least functional for the most basic of things.

The fact that Clipchamp is now built into Windows 11 as of the latest Insider Build suggests to me that Microsoft won't be trying to improve or fix its free tools, and thus, will eventually want you to pay $9 per month for the most aggressively basic things that iPhones and Galaxy Phones do out of the box. Is there a future where Microsoft pulls the plug entirely on the video editing capabilities of the Photo app in favor of this overpriced Clipchamp alternative? It'd be a bad joke.

All of this is illustrative of a larger problem within Windows (and Surface by extension), which is complacency. As Apple works harder and harder across both its hardware and software to entice users, Microsoft seems intent on alienating users instead. Execs — the complacency of the Windows monopoly might be comforting, but hey, monopolies rarely last forever.

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • 1080p should be at least possible on the free version. If I'm paying for "Creator" or "Business" I expect at LEAST 4K exports if not 8-16K. I'd rather they charge for the recording features than the export features! Granted, most users will post videos to social media feeds where even 1080p isn't strictly necessary or even worth it. This doesn't mean that we should be falling back to 480p as a standard when nearly every phone consumers own has at least FHD video recording.
  • Glad I took some time to learn DaVinci Resolve, MS is ridiculous for this
  • Yep, for those who took a time to learn Da Vinci, that one is hard to beat. Comparable to iMovie if not better. We need like Da Vinci Resolve, but just less advance and the UX that is easier for most people even with Timeline UI.
  • To be fair, those were the prices and features before Microsoft acquired them. Hopefully we will see some feature/pricing changes in the near future.
  • Honestly it's just a bad look when you're the company that builds the OS and the basic video editing app has exporting above 480 locked behind a paywall. You want to charge for cloud storage, okay, integrate with M365/OneDrive or charge a small monthly fee (like $3/mo.). Some license free audio should be included, you want to charge for more, okay. Same with filters and transitions. But a basic feature such as exporting a video should not require a fee, especially when there are far superior solutions readily available for free.
  • This is ridiculous for them to even be charging money. Do yourself a favor and get HitFilm Express for free. If you want a pro license it's there.
  • KDEnlive is free, runs fine on even lower end hardware, and kicks ass.
  • I can't say I get what they're thinking. The good news is there's plenty of cheap or free video editors that will work just fine, as others have mentioned here. One is actually built into the MS Photos app. It's unimaginatively called "Video Editor." It will not rock your world, but it works, and the UI is actually kind of nice.
  • Video Editor built in the Photos app is actually okay. At least it should be just decouple and make it a standalone app, so it will be less bloated and can gain features without making Photos app more heavy.
  • Well, given how fluid proton is for games. It's only a matter of time and given Microsoft is really it's own worst enemy when it comes to a coherent mobile strategy. Which mind you they can still pursue with WoA. In regards to clipchamp It's baffling how this decision made it off the planning board.
  • Well it is still in the Insider builds and not yet general release (right?), so maybe articles like this will encourage MS to fix the problem before it really does ship.
  • True. however, it's still an active service therefore pricing is something that should have been addressed before anything else. It's not like Microsoft needs to scrounge for pennies... lol...
  • Microsoft operating procedures:
    1. Buy successful company
    2. Ignore the market and users
    3. Release half baked product
    a. Let's try overcharging this time
    4. Wonder and shock at low take rate
    5. Ignore product, let it die on the vine
    6. Walk away slowly and act like nothing happened. Never admit defeat.
  • Your list makes little sense, given that Microsoft have basically just put their own name on the same product with the same price. If it was successful before then why should it be any different now? If it's too expensive now then it must have been before, right? Try making sense because just blindly bashing Microsoft makes you look stupid. There's plenty to criticise them for, as there is any big company, so why make up stupid stuff? Even if your list were relevant to Microsoft in general, it isn't to this particular case, so it's still stupid to bring it up here.
  • people incentivised it.
    Every one who gave them money for rip-off subscriptions like Game Pass, Office 365, Microsoft 365, OneDrive, etc...ALL of you have told Microsoft that's it's OK to continuously charge for software that you used to pay a single perpetual license to. Any sort of subscription service is a rip-off for the consumer. But since you keep buying them, companies will keep abusing them more and more.
    I honestly feel no pity whatsoever for this. If falls perfectly in line with what Microsoft has been doing for the past 5-10 years.
  • OneDrive is probably the one service where the subscription model makes some sense
  • The value proposition with O365 is massive, and keeps growing as they are always adding features to it and effectively lowering the price. Even if you only upgraded stand-alone Office once every 15 years, you'd still be paying less for the subscription overall. And for the user who still wants stand-alone, that's still there. None of that applies to this ClipChamp fiasco. No stand-alone purchase option while charging far more for it than O365 and not even offering an offline work model.
  • Ha. It's easy to dismiss people who speak in broad absolutes.
  • Bad take. 1. Game Pass is not something that anyone ever paid a single license fee for. People are still free to pay full price for just the games they want if that's what they prefer but Game Pass gives you access to loads of games. If you paid for every game that was available on Game Pass it would cost you a fortune. It's not right for everyone but, for many people, you can play more games for less money on Game Pass. 2. Office 365 and Microsoft 365 are the same thing, with the former being the old name and the latter being the new. For many, it's very good value because you can get multiple licenses and you're always getting the new features. For the rest, you can still pay once and get the current version of Office and keep it forever. 3. Where OneDrive is concerned, when has anyone ever been able to pay a single fee for perpetual cloud storage?
  • I would not use an online video editor anyway, uploading files and then downloading the finished product would be a nightmare on a slow connection.
    People saying about DaVinci Resolve and hitfilm, I like both, but they both need a pretty powerful machine to run them, and DaVinci Resolve, fusion can be a bit complex.
    If someone wants a basic free editor, then as Shel Dyck posted, KDenlive may be the way to go, it is light and it has really come on leaps and bounds over the last few years.. As for Adobe Premier, it is not as good as people think, it is bloated and buggy and also cost a fair bit. I know a few people who used to use it and have now dropped it. Some people use it because they think they are using the best.
  • Online aspect of this is the extra BS piece that many seem to be missing. Not only is it inherently much slower for large videos, it isn't even an option unless you have good broadband and even then, most who have cable 'broadband' have crap upload speeds. And yes, DaVinci Resolve and Hitfix do have a non-beginner interface but the scope of their functionality is of course relevant to point out what a rip-off this basic program is that comes nowhere near their free functionality.
  • This is why I saved the installer for Windows Movie Maker. I've put it on every system I have had including my current Windows 11 dev system. Minimal bells and whistles, but still works great.
  • Exactly! It's amazing that it still works so well even after all these years!
  • Why cannot Microsoft provide basic features on their os like mac and android do?
    They got apple office suite, Google docs for document viewing and editing, nothing out of box on windows unless you pay.
    Same with imovie and other apps for basic functionality. This is 2022, you cannot charge for basic features when people already pay for your os
  • Google Docs isn't a good comparison as MSFT office web is free too. Also Google is now charging for features on it's android photo editor so it is starting to go the same stupid direction.
  • it's sad that people will pay for basic features in the future.
  • If you are a professional, you aren't likely to use an inbox app. 480p should be just fine for someone who doesn't know what they are doing.
  • As a professional writer, Jez, you should know better than to promulgate the oft worn, blatantly false, easily disproven myth that "... UWP is effectively dead at this point." I could, again, point out that UWP is the only way to deliver (3rd party) apps to the Xbox platform, that UWP is one of the few supported ways to deploy apps to S-mode Windows, etc. but you'd know that if you'd bothered to check first before making such a statement. While Microsoft has indicated that the API available to developers for making UWP apps is unlikely to receive additional and future feature enhancements, which one may read as the API being de facto deprecated (don't you just hate Microsoft's non-committal communications style), deprecated does not equal dead. It won't be removed from Windows anytime soon, and will likely hang around like .Net Framework: (forever) a part of Windows for "legacy" reasons and always available should a developer choose to use it. Such misinformation should be beneath you.
  • $20 for a lifetime license gets you Animotica, a UWP app with pretty fast performance on x86 and ARM. It also has 4K exporting. Maybe MS didn't take a look at what other third party developers are doing before rolling out Clipchamp's ridiculous pricing.
  • On the home page, this story is headlined thusly: "If Microsoft wants Clipchamp to be less than a joke, reduce those prices" I think that should be either "more than a joke" or "less of a joke".
  • I am slightly bemused by the amount of vitriol poured here on the "online" aspect without using the Clipchamp app even once... We'll, I have used it. And here's what I know: The app is actually a PWA (Progressive web app) - and it works completely offline. None of your uploaded videos actually leave your computer, and you can do the whole processing offline. I used it when it was not bought by MS, and also when it was bought. Positive points:
    + The app is a PWA, so it can work anywhere - Windows, Linux, Chromebooks! It should be noted that Chromebook can't easily install traditional softwares so a PWA video editing app is a godsend
    + Given that the app is PWA, it has good performance until you have a ton of video files.
    + The app lacks some basic features which you'd expect from PremiePro etc, but they do keep working on bringing new features, so I'm hopeful. Negative points:
    - Yes, the app does crash when you put a lot of video/audio files
    - The export restriction is total nonsense. I needed a 720p export and ended up paying for it (but they refunded the amount because they were running some promotion for Chromebooks)
    - India recently brought out some consumer-friendly laws around recurring billing, which made companies waive off or sell 3 month subscriptions until they updated their subscribtion services to comply. But for this app, you have to buy the ANNUAL subscription because they never bothered to do anything on this front - absolute nonsense.
    - They now require you to link your MS account to the app. Probably for the oncoming O365 integration... But now they have very less excuses to not improve the app.
  • Chipchamp is currently something to uninstall. The low end that is free is not worth it using when other video editing apps exist for free without 720. Cost of other subscription options are not worth it with other free or lower cost options available. Chipchamp = uninstall.