Redmond, Washington — In a fresh move to expand its horizon on the social sphere, software maker Microsoft is opening up its emerging Socl social-networking research project, which enable users to create and share visual content in an online gallery similar to Pinterest. It is powered by Microsoft’s search engine Bing.
On Tuesday, Microsoft’s FuSE Labs research team, the original designers of the project took the wraps off the redesigned to be more adept at helping people connect around shared interests and opened up the beta to anyone who wants to test drive it.
The Socl social project was initially launched back in December of 2011, where users had to receive an invitation to use it. Then, in May the service was given a low-key launch, aimed mainly at students. But now anyone with a Facebook or Microsoft account is able to sign up.
Users are invited to build visual collages of their search results and share them with others
On the website, Microsoft clarified that it did not intend to go head to head with Facebook or other social networks. Microsoft officials have portrayed Socl as a kind of combination of social-networking and search that is designed to get the learning communities to start thinking about how to use collaboration technologies in new ways.
“Socl is an experimental research project with a minimal set of features,” the website noted.
At its core, Socl is all about search, but search spiffed up with image-rich collections. However, Socl as it exists now is not how it originally existed, with the interface being altered to accommodate the way users were using it. Said FUSE’s General Manager Lili Cheng: “The way people were using Socl was amazingly different than we designed it.”
In fact, it is a way of dispensing common interests through pictures, video or news stories. For instance, you can post updates on your life, including images in the same way as Facebook and a multitude of other social networks offer. People can also “riff” on posts, which is a feature that looks pretty much similar to a more open-ended version of Twitter’s retweet. You can be inspired by a cat collage and then go on to make your own, for instance.
The redesigned Socl site. (Credit: Microsoft)
Elaborating on the essentials of the service, the company said, “Socl helps people find and distribute interesting web pages by extending the search metaphor, create rich posts by assembling montages of visual web content and provides rich media sharing and real time sharing of videos,” a spokesperson said. “We encourage users to re-imagine how everyday communication and learning tools can be improved by researching, learning, and sharing in their everyday lives.”
And according to the Softies and contrary to popular rumors, Socl was not designed to be a rival to Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler or Pinterest but, to be honest, does seem to be used in similar fashions by the public.
To enjoy the new update, users should go to http://beta.so.cl and authenticate with Facebook or Microsoft ID.