Microsoft Socl Makes its Beta Debut

microsoft socl social network Microsoft Socl Makes its Beta Debut

Welcome to the world of Microsoft Socl, the mysterious and yet, intriguing new social network to compete with Pinterest. The project, originally launched in December 2011, has changed considerably from the original introduction and the new Beta version has already shown some promise.

With an almost complete redesign, Socl, the project from Microsoft’s FUSE research group, still has limited users, but anyone that has Facebook or a Microsoft account can access it and benefit from full usage.

Originally a network project mostly for students, Socl has developed into full blown visual based network where communication, images, and videos can be shared and promoted. The final version is expected to be released in 2013 with some glitches still to be ironed out in the Beta version.

Pinterest is exceptionally popular and Microsoft Socl thus still has a far way to go if it hopes to beat Pinterest in popularity. It features collage style image/video sharing, but with its .cl domain name, it may still lose out on a lot of visits because people still need to get used to the strange domain name. Microsoft doesn’t seem to be concerned about it though and must already have a solution in mind such as the possible integration with their other services.

If you have been concerned about privacy issues with Google and the social network Facebook, you will have even more with Socl and if something is private then simply don’t share it on Socl. Other than that, it is still pretty much a time waster, but has tremendous potential. The network project is not competition for Facebook, but with its new design and functionality can soon become a thorn in the side of Pinterest.

Socl features the typical two-column lay-out of Pinterest and thus has a type of familiarity that Pinterest users will appreciate. Once signed up and logged into the social network, you can click new post and get a topic text search field that allows for searching using Bing. You will get a list of relevant links, images and videos that can be pasted onto a grid lay-out system. In addition, you can also create a new post, based on the search you have just completed and will then have a list of links related to it that you can post.

All the posts show at the front page of Socl and although there are currently two columns, you also have the three column lay-out option. You don’t have to be signed in to see the posts and this is where one needs to use common sense when posting images to Socl. If the picture will be embarrassing for you, a family member, colleague or close friend or can land you in trouble, then don’t post it since it will not be private.

To operate on Socl is rather easy. For the creation of a new post, you can just paste links or even make use of the Bing search as explained earlier to find thumbnails and drag them into the collage grid. Add a sentence to describe what the image or video collection is about and why you have put the collection together. Press the post option and the collection is shared with the rest of the Socl community.

Recommendations are done by means of pressing the “this makes me smile” option to then share the collection via Twitter or Facebook. To overcome language barriers, Microsoft’s Socl offers Bing translation and thereby connects people from various countries.

The network furthermore features the follower feature of Twitter and most popular users are shown at the People page. Most of the people on the network are still employees of Microsoft, but the company expects it to change in future. To share videos you can use Parties, where videos can be looped and others can join in on the fun, although not many are using the function yet. With no controls such as forward and pause, you will have to go through the whole loop.

For personal information and to give your background such as interests and friends, Socl features the “me” section. Apart from searches and posts, you can also create a playlist for watching videos. You will be able to watch the videos with others in Socl and can even interrupt through chats while watching.

The main issues experienced so far are about private engagement and group followings. The tag system isn’t the best method for information finding and even with the Bing text search available it still needs some work to make it the ultimate image-collage social network. The network does include a few of the Google+ features, a few Pinterest similarities and also a bit of Facebook. Windows 8 features can also be seen and one can thus come to the conclusion that it is a casual social collage.

One can for instance, control some issues such as notifications or erase content, but privacy is not an option. For some, this doesn’t seem to be a problem as a few rather private collections have already surfaced and Microsoft may need to deal with such quickly before Socl turns into a porn network.

If you are wondering whether a visit to Microsoft Socl will be worth your time, the answer is yes and as with Facebook you can expect it to improve over the long term.

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