May 21, 2012 at 6:23 PM ET
Microsoft Research over the weekend began allowing members of the public to join its social network called “so.cl” that the company had previously been testing privately with students and researchers at a small number of universities.
As described in GeekWire's preview last year, the idea behind so.cl is to integrate search more deeply into a social learning experience, letting people quickly share the results of their searches with others on the social network, by clicking on results or pictures to add them to a post. So.cl also comes with a “video party” feature for watching videos with friends on the service
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So.cl was developed by Microsoft Research’s FUSE Labs — one of several projects from the group.
“FUSE Labs’ So.cl project is now accepting all users interested in joining the site,” a Microsoft representative said in a statement. “So.cl is an experimental research project focused on the future of social experiences and learning, especially among younger people.”
“We’ve been really busy over the weekend,” said Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs, calling it “great to see how much interest there is.”
The public launch has already generated lots of attention, in part because of Microsoft’s role as an investor in Facebook. The timing is certainly interesting, coming close on the heels of Facebook’s IPO. The site is drawing comparisons to Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
But given the experimental nature of the so.cl project, calling this a competitor to any of those services is a bit of a stretch. New users can set up accounts using an existing Facebook or Windows Live login.
Microsoft’s product teams look to Microsoft Research for technologies and approaches that could benefit what they’re developing.
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