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MIcrosoft Lanuches So.cl Social Network

Microsoft’s social network pitched to students as a discovery tool to connect with others.

Microsoft has launched So.cl, it’s new social network, without much fanfare. Here’s what it’s all about

Social networks are all the rage these days; one has apparently gone public, meeting a lukewarm reception from investors. Microsoft has gone a different route, launching the So.cl social network.

That’s because the social network isn’t taking aim at Facebook or Twitter, aiming to help students to connect with others over what they find interesting. And that is interesting, because as much as Facebook is about connecting with people it’s mainly about connecting with people you already know. Twitter users can follow anyone, but they don’t have to interact with you and not following back means user’s posts won’t appear in their feed.

The service is pronounced as the word social, with its main purpose described as learning. Users actually log in with their Facebook account or Windows Live account, so they’re still invested into the now-public company.

Group experiences

Social has a bookmarklet feature which introduces a Share on So.cl button on user’s bookmark toolbar, enabling content to be shared with other So.cl users. Users can also, what Microsoft calls, riff on posts. This sounds to me like a way to encourage conversation, rather than artificial likes on posts.

A killer feature though is video parties, which are what you’d expect them to be. Watching an episode of the Yogcast and want to get someone in on it? Get a party set up. Searches are also visible to other users and third parties (a bit different to Facebook, where users can configure third parties to not be able to see their content). Facebook friends aren’t involved unless invited, so even though the service is used to sign up the two seem to remain separate.

I don’t think Zuckerberg and co. need to worry about So.cl taking the spotlight, because users are so engrained into that service now they’re got no incentive to move. When Google Plus went fully open, users didn’t like it because casual consumers weren’t on. And that’s the thing: these services can be launched, but casual consumers won’t be aware of them. When they are, they’re going to ask one question: are my friends here?

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Published: Friday, May 25th, 2012 Last Modified: March 31, 2015

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