After years of being beaten by the competitors Microsoft have finally decided to join in with the social networking revolution with the release of their network so.cl (so cool… get it?). The network is meant to target young people as a ‘sort of’ academic resource. Users on so.cl share stories with each other which sees Microsoft’s social network become an amalgamation of Digg, Twitter and Google+.
Logging into so.cl is a quick process as you activate your account with either a Facebook or Windows Live login. Once you have done this your profile is active and you are able to start posting content straight away. Once logged in users are able to search for stories, each search then publicly displays on each users’ profile. This isn’t an invasion of privacy but instead underpins the purpose of so.cl, to search and share with other users.
Every social network allows search, sharing and contribution. These are the values behind the web 2.0 era but simply describe function. A social network is not born to create money but instead fulfil a purpose and attract users by being unique. In terms of so.cl none of features are innovative. Posting status updates, adding comments and sharing media files are common place on every social network.
Therefore so.cl seems like a weak attempt by Microsoft to enter the social networking revolution, seven years after the horse has bolted. Like the network was created in a poorly equipped lap which built a clean but poorly functioned network. Just why did Microsoft bother creating so.cl? I’m not sure they even know as the market positioning is confusing at best.
It is separate to Windows Live, doesn’t integrate Microsoft services and its functions can be found across other well established networks. You can connect your so.cl account with Facebook (which makes the idea of so.cl being a ‘Facebook killer’ impossible) or connect with Windows Live (which has seen huge declines in activity over the last four years). The only social network so.cl threatens is Quora but even the hype around Quora has recently died to a timid hush.
Microsoft has yet again arrived late to the party but in reality so.cl is not their first social network. Windows Live has been around for donkey’s years but over the last few it has seen a rapid decline in activity and account registrations. People simply do not use Windows Live like they used to – better choices now exist on the market. Without a doubt Microsoft’s most popular social network is Xbox Live, yes, it is a social network. In Live subscriptions alone Microsoft rakes in over $1bn – insane!
What Microsoft may be attempting with so.cl is a new era of search. A time when people don’t ask search engines for answers but instead each other. However this already happens across every social network which makes so.cl seem pointless. The work Google is already doing with semantic search blows this tiny so.cl project by Microsoft clean out of the water.
Don’t take this pessimistic article about so.cl as truth though. Try it out yourself, you can even follow me.
Will I use so.cl regularly? Unlikely. It already seems very dated.