Microsoft (Social) Silently Launched

Martin Brinkmann
May 20, 2012
Internet, Microsoft

Oh no, not another networking site, please, for god's sake. That was my first thought when I read about Microsoft when it was first announced. With Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and myriads of specialized social networking sites like Pinterest or Chill, it has become quite crowded in the place. New services who want any chance of success need to either have the backing of a large Internet player, or an idea that introduces something new to the scene.  We have seen the explosive growth of services like Pinterest, which have introduced something new, and Google Plus, which is backed by Google's whole marketing machinery and integrated into nearly every Google service out there.

Now it is, which happened to be activated earlier accidentally, and then pulled again by Microsoft. The service as of today is accessible again, which may be another accident, or a silent launch. Regardless of why it is now available, it is not the best of starts, considering that users do not really know about the service, and do not see the service plastered over all of Microsoft's hot properties on the Internet.

Interested users can sign up for with their Windows Live ID or their Facebook account. Once that is out of the way you see the usuall assortment of first steps laid out in front of you. You see some suggested topics that you may be interested in, popular users who are already using, and if you used your Facebook account to sign-up, your Facebook friend's who have signed-up already.


According to Microsoft, socl combines web browsing, search and social networking with each other. Lets see what your options are:

  • You can obviously befriend users on socl by following them. If you do that, you see their posts in your feed
  • You can also browse through the global feed. I'm not really sure how this will work out when millions of users are posting on socl, for now though.
  • When you see a post of interest, you can like it, comment on it, tag it, share it or riff it. The latter requires some explanation. If you riff a post on socl, you basically post a response to that post. If you see a post full of photos of Jerusalem, you might want to riff it to add your own photos or notes that relate to the original post. A link to the riffed post is added to the original post and vice versa. This works similar to YouTube's video response feature.
  • You create new posts by entering a topic of interested into the form at the top of the page. Socl uses Bing as its search engine, and you will find image, video and text, as well as results from feeds in the results listing. You can now add contents to your post, and add links and tags manually to it as well.
  • You can also join and create video parties. This basically allows you to create a chat room and add videos to it from various video hosting sites. Other users can then join the room, and chat about the videos that they watch, and add videos of their own to the room.
  • A bookmarklet is available that lets you share contents that you find on the Internet to directly.

The search to post and video party ideas are neat, but I'm not really convinced that they are enough to help the service take off, let alone compete with the heavyweight social networking sites.

New users may want to check out the settings first to make sure the notification and privacy settings are to their liking. By default, emails digests will be send out on a weekly basis, and notifications will be send out when someone comments on a post or search, tags the user, invites or sends a private message. options

What's your take on Will you give it a try, or wait to see how it fares first?


Tutorials & Tips

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. FC360 said on June 2, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I’ve just signed up for it and it seems pretty good so far. The tag line I found was a little weird, to me it suggested the site was created by students for students as a experiment so I thought I wouldn’t be able to register since I’m not a student but apparently not lol.

  2. Fernando said on May 31, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I see that nobody understood the purpose of SOCL, is open to all, you do not need privacy, is to share searches, if you don’t want to share them with the put as private.
    It is not facebook that only serves to show crap. Here you used to share interests, information, requests for aid.

  3. smaragdus said on May 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    The Facebook privacy issues are nothing compared to this so called socl. I tested it, did not like it and immediately deleted my account. A huge failure by MS$.

  4. Fitoschido said on May 21, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    According to their terms of use, they will send my data to a random third party. Why on earth should I even try their mediocrity of website?

  5. hal9000 said on May 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    What a crap name socl, sounds like some kinda tropical disease

  6. Peter said on May 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Another quote found @
    “ combines social networking with web browsing and search, for the purpose of learning.”

  7. Peter said on May 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    According to the video on the side’s tagline is: “A new research experience for students”

  8. ilev said on May 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

    No privacy, any one can see all your searches.

  9. riple said on May 21, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I just hope they offer something new. I think they have tons of user and if they integrate all their service with, it will be competitor for the others

  10. Roman ShaRP said on May 21, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Even if there was no news about MSN messenger link censoring, I don’t trust Microsoft with my social life and updates.

  11. smaragdus said on May 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    It is very disappointing that there is no way to sign out. It can be done only by deleting cookies.

    1. Fernando said on May 30, 2012 at 4:57 am

      Yes, to sign out, click in your picture sign out,

    2. Rick said on May 20, 2012 at 9:08 pm

      Delete the cookie. The one that doesn’t expire (well in year 8099) will be removed.

      For me anyhow, the next cookie expires at the end of session so when you close your browser, you are logged out. And yes, it would be better if there was a logout option.

      1. Rick said on May 20, 2012 at 9:10 pm

        I forgot to mention the first cookie was placed there during the invite period. The new one is for the live service. Unfortunately they didn’t think to fix the first cookie for those early adopters :(

  12. David said on May 20, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    It’s obvious why they made a silent launch. MS is merely experimenting and not really being serious of competing against Facebook and Google+. If fails, they could quietly abandon it, sparing themselves the embarrassment of announcing’s discontinuation.

    1. Rick said on May 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm

      Nope – it was a silent launch because they made a mistake and the service went online for a brief period. Not brief enough though as the keen eyes out there noticed it.

      It was live when first seen, then it went to an invite for a few days, and now to what we have today. My guess is that they had enough interest in that invite period that they just decided to go live.

      The project itself was being used at msft (for months already) for internal use / play. So I think if it succeeds on the internet, it is a win. If it doesn’t, it’s original internal use works for them.

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.