Microsoft has unveiled So.cl, its new social network originally meant for students and now open to proles everywhere. Does that remind you of another social network at all?
In July of last year the makings of a Microsoft-powered social network first appeared. It was called Tulalip but resided at the socl.com domain. By November the name had changed and the site was beginning to take shape around a basic, minimalist layout. In December Microsoft opened So.cl up to selected universities and the whole thing was written off as a research tool for students.
Now, everybody is invited to join in the So.cl fun, or lack of fun, depending on your point of view.
Danny Sullivan has signed up so that you don’t have to. But if you’d rather see for yourself what the (distinct lack of) fuss is all about you can log in to the site with either your Windows Live or Facebook credentials. Once you’ve done so you can have fun matching the different elements to the sites Microsoft has used for inspiration. Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest all make an appearance.
Microsoft originally branded So.cl variously as an “experimental research project” and “an experiment in open search.” The company is still claiming So.cl as a way for students to share interests. This made some sense when the social network (let’s call it what it is) was only available to students, but now it’s available to all who want in that seems a little misleading.
I cannot help but think this is the groundwork being laid for what Microsoft hopes will become a contender for Facebook and Google+. The problem is that most people are happy at Facebook, and those that aren’t have a second option in Google+. Do we really need a third? And one run by Microsoft, hardly the company most people afraid of Facebook and the way it does business will run to? Personally I think not.