After teasing the project formerly named Tulalip over the summer and then giving tech blog The Verge a sneak peak, Microsoft has launched their social network, So.cl. At first, some suspected that Microsoft, like Google, might get into the social network game. The tech veteran insists it's not trying to compete with the Facebooks out there, explains the project on its FAQ page. "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," they write. "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." But, let's be real: The social network thieves from Facebook just a bit.
Things That Make It Like Facebook
So.cl is a search based social network just for students. At its root, it is a social network. It's about sharing things, just like Facebook, which of late has made its network all about sharing everything. So.cl is frictionless sharing, but just for search. All searches, powered by Bing (of course), are automatically shared. "As students work together, they often search for the same items, and discover new shared interests by sharing links," explains Microsoft. "So.cl experiments with this concept by automatically sharing links as you search." And the way those things get shared with people, looks a lot like Facebook's newsfeed design. They even call it a "feed."
In fact, the whole thing looks like it took some design pointers from Facebook, with the feed and search box at the top of the page.
The site also takes a page from Google+'s biggest success, hangouts, with its "video parties." It doesn't integrate video chatting. But allows So.clites to group-chat while watching the same video.
Things That Make It Not Like Facebook
This focuses solely on search. Oh, and videos. But it doesn't allow for content creation -- yes, status updates and photo uploads count under that metric. It does however allow users to make an Internet collage of sorts with the montage feature.
Also Facebook's frictionless sharing doesn't remind users they are on a social network. Washington Post readers automatically share articles they have read on the Post site on Facebook -- if opting for Facebook integration. With So.cl the searching and sharing happens all in one place.
unlike Facebook, which spawned from Zuck's sexual interests, Microsoft hopes So.cl will be a learning tool. For now it's partnering with New York University, University of Washington, and Syracuse University.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.