Is Microsoft’s new social network So.cl a direct attack on Google?

21 May 20121 Share

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Microsoft has launched its own social network called So.cl. The new network appears to be more of a threat to Google+ than Facebook, featuring video parties to rival Hangouts, and ultimately is a share-and-search facility for students.

Microsoft probably wanted to let the Facebook IPO happen before it went public with plans for its own social network.

But it seems to be much more of a model geared to threaten Google and Google+ in terms of its purpose to help users share searches with one another and hold video parties.

So.cl (pronounced ‘social’) allows users to log in using their Facebook profiles or their Windows Live details.

The purpose is to connect with others around shared interests and content they like.

The timing of So.cl’s big reveal is quite interesting when you consider the major changes it plans for Bing in coming weeks and it will be interesting to see how So.cl manifests itself in the three columns that will define Bing in the coming weeks.

It will be interesting also to see what Microsoft’s late arrival in social – it nearly missed the internet during the Nineties – might mean for the competitive social landscape.

The software company already has a seasoned online advertising business and if it can ramp up the numbers So.cl could also be a threat to Twitter, which has yet to reveal its commercialisation strategy for the future.

So.cl features instant chat features, for example, bookmarking and a way of interacting with content it calls ‘riffing’.

Again the real test of all these things is numbers. With Microsoft due to launch a new sign-in function called Microsoft account ID and the imminent arrival of Windows 8, if the software giant is clever it could find a way of ramping up numbers of users rather quickly.

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Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com