To everyone’s surprise, Microsoft has just launched themselves into the social media game with their recent release of So.cl. Yup, another social network(?) on the loose but does it really matter at this point in time? We explore some of the features and potential of this new social network and weight into whether it’s worth your time.

Wait … Microsoft So.Cl?

So.cl Launch

As of now, So.Cl has a waiting list for new members which can be created through your Facebook or Microsoft Live account login.

So.Cl seems to aim to be less of an all-encompassing network in place of a social “experience” through search and sharing – it’s almost meant to be a social Google, in some ways.

So.Cl takes two of the biggest features from the major platforms and wraps them into one:

  • The “Wall” from Facebook
  • “Hangouts” from Google+

The underlying idea behind this new platform is to allow people to “social search”; Microsoft Fuse Labs, the team behind it, aims to turn the platform into a new way to learn by including friends and family while doing a daily activity (for most) which is searching for information. So.cl isn’t meant to replace the major social media platforms but to use existing accounts and data to generate a better experience.

What’s the point of all this?

So.cl dashboard

Naturally, one would assume that the reason this new social layer is a way to improve and create a greater adoption of the Bing search engine. However, there does seem to be interesting features for a niche audience that would rather spend their time learning new topics vs. reading what someone ate.

The two big features are video parties and rich posts.

  • Video parties allow users to share content and discuss topics in real-time. You can think of it like Google+ but the main focus is to keep the conversation focused on learning vs. chit-chat.
  • Rich posts are meant to create high quality sources of interests and information rather than sharing multiple links and trying to peace them together. In some ways, you’re creating small Wikipedia pages on the fly to be shared with your friends and the web.

Additionally, So.Cl offers up the ability to follow general interests which adds a sort-of StumbleUpon experience to the social search service. In all, it’s a giant concoction of the best features from all the various networks yet doesn’t exactly have a true identity at this time.

Why bother?

Here’s the thing: there are too many social networks.

We have limited time and don’t truly need another but I believe Microsoft notices this which is why it doesn’t aim to replace the others. As for whether you should get on board, I would say to hold off until we see the practical uses mature; it could become a great way to build a brand through the video party and rich post element but until it shows staying power like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, it’s just another to keep on the back burner.