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Microsoft launches social learning network

Microsoft launches So.cl, a social networking site for students

Microsoft has attempted to get into the social networking space by launching its own: So.cl, which is specifically aimed at students.

According to the firm, So.cl combines social networking with web browsing and search in order to improve the way students learn. It intends to help students better search for educational information and share the results of their findings more quickly, with others.

The network was created by Microsoft’s Fuse labs in conjunction with the University of Washington, Syracuse University and New York University. It has been tested within the universities in a closed beta trial but has now been launched publicly.

Eden Zoller, principal analyst at Ovum, explained that So.cl is not a fully-fledged social network and although it is too early to suggest it could rival to Google+ or Facebook, the chances are it never will.

“The fact that So.cl is targeted at students echoes Facebook’s beginnings and has made many assume it is a Facebook clone. But So.cl is, as Microsoft stresses, an experiment and designed to be layer on existing social networks,” she explained. “Microsoft is being sensible in positioning So.cl in this way. The opposite approach of Google, which entered social networking all guns blazing with a full on service, is having modest success.”

Zoller added that So.cl is powered by Bing and is about social search and sharing, with little value add beyond this and nowhere near the kind of features offered by Facebook or Google+.

“If So.cl gains significant traction, which we think unlikely, then Microsoft might well ramp up the service with additional features, particularly mobile where Microsoft can tap into the Windows Phone platform. But for now So.cl will most likely remain an experiment at heart, which is no bad thing and Microsoft will still walk away with valuable insights and experience that can help improve its overall search capabilities, which is its major priority.”


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