Microsoft is clearly trying really hard. The software giant, went live with its own version of a social networking site called, So.cl. The site seems to be a combination of social networking, search, and media sharing and has a user interface resembling every social networking website that’s currently popular.
According to VentureBeat, “So.cl is pronounced “Social”. It was being billed as an “experimental research project” and was only available to students studying information and design at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University. While the project is still billed as experimental, it’s now open to anyone who wants to give it a shot. “
Users can sign in via their Facebook or Windows Live account. The site is linked to search, which means that what a user searches can be viewed by other So.cl users. Interestingly third parties also have access to searches.
Once a user logs in they will notice that So.cl appears to be a mish-mash of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. It has a user feed which is similar to the Facebook feed. It will also tell you if any of your Facebook friends are using So.cl.
The newsfeed will show searches by other So.cl users if you click on everyone. The left-hand column has various options for newsfeed settings ranging from: Everyone, Following (people you’re following on the site), Conversations (your conversations with others on the site) and Posts (the messages you put up).
The activities column on the left-hand side also has an option called parties which shows videos that you have posted on the site. It’s safe to say that after Google plus Hangouts, Video Parties is perhaps the lamest term that has been used on a social networking site.
You can post a message on the site which again works like a status message on Facebook. Users can tag it according to interest, links etc. Tags can be any search related terms and not just friends’ names like Facebook.
Microsoft seems to be jumping on the social media bandwagon a bit too late. The search on the site is powered by Bing naturally and seems to be an attempt to make search results more niche, more social. Its advisable to change your privacy settings on the site. For those who long in via Facebook, you are likely to get emails to the account that you use to log into Facebook. Emails from unknown people might appear in your inbox via So.cl.
For now the site appears to be a bit slow. Each section is taking some time to load. Obviously Microsoft has a lot of work to do on this one.
The big question: As a user do you want the most relevant search results or just results that friends seem to be sharing? Doesn’t Facebook already do that, showing us what our friends are reading? In that sense So.cl doesn’t seem to be doing anything revolutionary for now.