BY | December 7, 2012

Microsoft launches Socl, a puzzling social network that resembles Pinterest. But can it compete with Facebook, Google Plus?

Microsoft has launched ‘Socl’ a social networking service to the general public, which allows users to share content in an online gallery similar to Pinterest.

Socl was developed by Microsoft’s Fuse Labs research team and was originally designed to appeal to students where student or users are invited to build visual collages of their search results and share with others wherever and whenever they required. After a one year of regressive testing, Microsoft’s Socl is available to everyone and also redesigned it to be more adept at helping people connect around shared interests.

Basically, Socl is all about search, its landing page is filled with photo collages which give it an elegant look.  Users can create visual collage (which is the main form of post on Socl), the posts forms images and videos collages put together using Bing search engine technology. Like in Facebook, users can comment, tag, like and even share posts to other social networks. User can also “riff” on other people’s posts, adding their own links, images and other materials, similar to Twitter’s re-tweet.

Socl help users to find like-minded people and then sharing interesting web pages, images, videos on real time basis. Also, using Socl everyday leads to improving communication and searching capability of the users. It gives not only a new learning experience but also collection of their favorite moments.

It is similar to Pinterest’s, so here also user will experience visual web content and real time sharing of videos. Socl offers a social network where people connect around posts and choose to follow people, interest, or both.  Users may also discover their Facebook friends on Socl and may find new topics and people they would like to follow. Most of these ideas Pinterest have already incorporated. The search results are the only element that both simplifies and complicates Socl’s collection-inspired collages. The user is confined his choice to what little Bing serves up contrasted with Microsoft’s claim of improving Bing’s searching capabilities.

Anyone can join Socl either through signing up directly on Socl or sign in using Facebook or Tweeter’s account.  Users can also invite their friends to join Socl by sharing posts to Facebook, Twitter or simply send them an invitation. Facebook and Tweeter friends on Socl will be easily visible from user’s People View on user’s “Me Page”. The Me Page is created once the user is signed in and at this page user can see all the posts that user have created or interacted with.

Socl also come up with feature called “parties” that allow people share video experience, create a list of videos to view and chat about together in real time. People can create their own party, or join an existing party created by another person. Parties seem tacked on, and are a very loose stretch on the whole interest-based search experience. It’s as if Microsoft needed to create a semi unique foil for Google+ Hangouts and this is what they came up with.

Overall Socl’s look and feel is more appealing than Pinterest-style pinboards. Images are at the centre of Socl, which make feed quick and easy to navigate. Also it has great feature, Video Parties, which allow users to build video playlists and invite friends to watch in real time. Socl is not aiming to replace Facebook, Tweeter, or Google instead, it hopes to provide brand new experience of rich visual collage.

Microsoft’s new venture shows how Social networking market has matured over a period of time and the big players acknowledging its commercial value. But Socl true performance, in times to come, in an already crowded social space opens up the floor for discussion.


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