The so-called promotional inquiries under FCRA 604(c), in which a creditor can obtain a listing of consumer names and addresses for the purpose of making the consumer an offer for credit or insurance that was not initiated by the consumer, are specifically prohibited under the FCRA from including any account specific information and from being seen by anyone other than the named consumer..
Other than that, credit reports obtained via either a hard or soft inquriy contain the same information.
The distinction between inquries (other than of the promotional flavor) is whether or not a record of the inquiry can be provided to parties other than the named consumer, and not in the content of the report.
Yes. There is no difference in what a creditor would see if he specifically requested a soft pull of your credit vs. a hard pull.
(1) Credit card companies commonly go to a CRA and ask for a list of people who might meet certain criteria. Maybe the CCC is looking for people with no derogs and low utilization say -- the criteria could be lots of things. The CCC does this as a way of sending out pre-approval CC offers The CRA then turns this list of people over to the CCC -- but not the actual reports themselves. Nevertheless this appears on your credit report as a "soft pull" of your report, even though the details of your report were not given to the CCC.
(2) Some entities use a soft pull of your credit purely as a tool for identity proofing. (You might in that process have to answer certain questions about info on your report: Did you have a loan for a Camry? If so when?) If an entity is doing this soft pull solely for the purpose of ID proofing, then it's quite possible that they might not see the details of how many hard inquiries you had or when. I don't know for sure how that works but this might be an exception too.
I see RobertEG beat me to it. :-)