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Microsoft launches So.cl social network

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May 22, 2012

So.cl - Microsoft's new take on social networking

So.cl - Microsoft's new take on social networking

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With decidedly little fanfare, Microsoft’s research-oriented FUSE Labs launched a new, student-oriented social network last weekend. While very much an experimental product at this point, So.cl (pronounced “social”) does highlight once more that the Redmond-based software giant is keen to keep its boffins thinking outside the box in order to find the next big thing, first.

So.cl has been put through a series of tests at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University since December 2011, and Microsoft has been very keen to manage expectations about the project. Rather than make any bold claims about So.cl being a white knight to usurp the reigning Facebook, the company seems instead to be headed in a different, altogether more academic direction, aiming to turn So.cl into a viable platform for younger people to share useful information quickly and easily. As a company blog post from December 2011 states:

“So.cl has been designed for students studying social media to extend their educational experience and rethink how they learn and communicate. They can build posts with many elements—photos, video, text, and more—and share them with colleagues. They also can find students with similar interests and build communities around specific educational goals. So.cl might even give students the ability to create their own social tool, customized for their own community.”

Microsoft So.cl video party

While the above features are interesting, they’re far from compelling and one could just as easily imagine another more established social network simply rolling such options into their existing platforms, thus nullifying So.cl’s merits. Once we also add the fact that fact that the service launched without any mobile support, it’s clear just how green this project actually is.

So, early days then and at this point it’s anyone’s guess as to whether So.cl will become Microsoft’s academic answer to Google+ or, rather, its Google Wave. You can decide for yourself, as So.cl is open to all comers and just needs a Facebook login or Windows Live account to get started.

Source: So.cl, Microsoft Research

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road.

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4 Comments

Facebook started out allowing college kids only. I remember because I was one of those college kids then. Maybe this is why it began and became so wildly popular. After all, in 2004 Myspace seemed like the end all be all of social networking. Since Microsoft wants this to be geared toward education and students, maybe it should require a ".edu" email address in order to get access. But that's just my opinion.

GvillaThrilla
23rd May, 2012 @ 11:32 am PDT

"... is keen to keep its boffins thinking outside the box in order to find the next big thing, first."

Really? That implies they've always done that? IMHO MS's strength is to let others show them the way, then dive in and either buy the company or bring out a competitor. Classic example of taking second-mover advantage and using superior marketing to make it tell.

Innovators? Rarely, probably never. And I don't think they've ever claimed to be either.

Chris Hogan
23rd May, 2012 @ 12:41 pm PDT

I hope you were being facetious or even condescending when you mentioned that Microsoft was developing a social network with "out of the box thinking" and "getting there first". Microsoft has not produced a significant indigenous product line in decades. Let's see if this beats bing, zune, "the butterfly" (whatever that was), .Net, Livesearch.

dugnology
23rd May, 2012 @ 02:13 pm PDT

Retracing the history of facebook??

MrGadget
25th May, 2012 @ 12:46 am PDT
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