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 ...

... 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
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at 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 tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!