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Microsoft Wants a Piece of Your Social Networking Time, Rolls Out So.cl

The Hush, Hush Debut of So.cl

Just days after social networking biggie, Facebook made its initial public offering, tech titan Microsoft silently rolled out it's experimental social networking platform to the Public after being in the beta-testing period for quite some time.

So.clSo.cl (pronounced as “social”), as the site is called, was first launched in December last year. The site is targeted at students and had formerly been limited to invitees at universities and school in the United States. Microsoft noted that the platform is the fruition of a joint partnership with selected universities that include Syracuse University, University of Washington and New York University – whose students have tested the website. It was developed by a team of designers and engineers from Microsoft's Fuse Labs and it is powered by Bing search. So, what's with So.cl? Below is a brief walk through.

The Look and Purpose

So.cl appears like a combination of the search engine Bing and online pinboard Pinterest. Based on its FAQ page, the site brings together social networking and search to aid users in finding and sharing interesting content they find on the Internet. It allows users to make rich posts by organizing a collage of visual content. To prompt users to interact and collaborate, So.cl is integrated with different media sharing tools.

How it Works

Sign Up

To access So.cl, you can use your Facebook account or your Windows Live ID. Should you choose to log in using your Facebook account and you are in So.cl, the site will show you who among your Facebook friends are currently registered on the site and will let you follow them. The site will also suggest categories or subjects that you can follow.

Feeds and Post

Once you have selected who or what to follow, So.cl will populate your “feed” with posts about what other So.cl users are viewing and sharing. However, you have the option to limit what you see to the people and categories you chose to follow. You will also find a section called “conversation” under your feeds, which you can use to send messages to other users.

For the post, this is where the influence of Bing can be seen. There are two ways how you can create a post. First, using the search-bar powered by Bing, type in a topic or subject you are interested in. Once the search results appear – a combination of news, images as well as videos related to your query – you can add the post that corresponds to your search by clicking the “add to post” button, which is located at the bottom of each of the result. You can type a message or description to accompany your post and click done.

The second option is for you to grab the link of the site you are interested in and paste it in a pop-up box that will appear when you click the “add link” button. Automatically Bing will search the link you have pasted and deliver results based around the link and you can choose a content you wish to share.

When your post goes live, people can like it by clicking on the smiley below your post. They can also post comments, share as well as tag your content.


As for your profile, So.cl uses a format similar to other social networking platforms, with your name, profile picture, and recent activity appearing on your profile. So.cl also provides you with a cover photo section which looks just like the one on Facebook. However, it appears that it is automatically generated according to what you share.

Other Notable features

One of the unique features of So.cl is the ability to curate video parties, which allows users to make their own list of movies, share it with their network, and chat with other users. The site also has an “interests” section that lists who or what you are following, with every interest having its own page based on a particular subject.

Microsoft noted that So.cl is not a possible rival to other social networking sites, rather an experiment in the field of open search – exploring what it can do to further boost social learning. At the moment, there might be some truth to this pitch considering that the site integrates with Facebook. Nonetheless, the current design and interface isn't built for mass service since it is pretty much under development, which is apparent with the limited functions, cluttered look, and broken links that need to be fixed.

One cannot simply overlook the fact, however, that So.cl is targeted at students, which somehow reflect how Facebook started until it expanded its reach and eventually became the leading and money-making social networking platform. With some tweaks and improvements in its overall functionality, you'll never know, Microsoft's So.cl might also turn into a mainstream social networking service that may or may not live up to Facebook or other social network medium.

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So what do you think about So.cl? You think it can hold up to Facebook or other social networking sites?

The article was written by Robert Kirk who runs a Website Design and Search Engine Optimisation company in Scotland, UK.

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