MS makes search 'So.cl' PDF Print E-mail

Microsoft is making another foray into the social media scene, with a hybrid social network that combines elements of existing services with search.

Dubbed “So.cl” (pronounced “social”), the new service has been in closed testing until now, and was initially designed for students. According to Microsoft, So.cl is an experimental research project focused on the future of social experiences and learning.

The service combines search with elements from existing social networks such as Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. Users download a So.cl bookmarklet, which is then used to share content from around the Web.

Also when searching within So.cl, users see a list of information and content relevant to the search, including posts from other users showing content they found.

“So.cl combines social networking and search, to help people find and share interesting Web pages in the way students do when they work together,” says Microsoft.

Microsoft says So.cl is not designed to compete with existing services, and instead adds an extra layer to social networking. Users can log in using Facebook or Windows Live.

“We expect students to continue using products such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other existing social networks, as well as Bing, Google and other search tools. We hope to encourage students to reimagine how our everyday communication and learning tools can be improved, by researching, learning and sharing in their everyday lives.”

Shared interests

Microsoft has formally partnered with selected US universities to roll out the service, but it says anyone can now participate.
 
Searches in So.cl are shared publicly by default, using the public Bing APIs to display search result data. “As students work together, they often search for the same items, and discover new shared interests by sharing links,” says Microsoft.
 
“We see this trend today on many social networks, such as Twitter, where shared links spread virally and amplify popular content. So.cl experiments with this concept by automatically sharing links as you search.”
 
A unique feature of So.cl is “video parties”, which lets users create a list of movies to view together with friends. “You can view any existing party collection created by any other So.cl user, or create your own, and easily chat with other So.cl users,” says Microsoft.
 
In February, Microsoft made an effort to get into the social scene with the release of a portal that curates social content from around the Web, named msnNOW. The service pulls data from blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Bing, YouTube and BreakingNews.com to create a real-time overview of trends and stories. At the time of release, Microsoft also said msnNOW was aimed directly at younger Web users.
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