Microsoft today let mortals like us to use their new social networking site Socl. Socl had been thrown open to students from University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University, in December 2011. And now it is open to everyone.So how is it? well here is my experience. Basically the whole website has five main sections: Post, Interest, People, Me and Parties.
The first thing you will see on signing in is the Post section. The Post section is basically where you get all the feed. According to your preference you can view posts from people you follow, posts related to things that interests you or just random posts from random users. Something that you will notice is the layout of each posts. Posts are a bit different from posts found on other social networks. Posts on Socl can contain just text, text+picture or just pictures. Yes, pictures. You can add at the max 30 pictures to a single post. Like all social networks, you get options to comment, tag or share a post. But there are no Likes or +1s here. These have been replaced by “This makes me smile” button, which adds your profile pic to the bottom of the post. Microsoft has also added a translate option too, which is really useful and does a good job. The only drawback, lots of irrelevant post which i am not interested in, are displayed.
Now how does one create a post? Microsoft believes that each post should have a topic. So, just type in the topic at the top. Topics could be anything from cars to countries to theories. Once you type in the topic you are redirected to a different page. Here on one side is your post and on the other side is a set of search results, relevant to your topic. These results include images, web pages, videos and news articles from all over the web. The results are provided by Bing. One can select and add anything from this set of results onto their post. The only drawback, no option to import from your hard drive. This lack of option shows that Microsoft is trying to build Socl around its search engine Bing. Basically it is sharing of content available on the internet, something we have seen before: Pinterest.
As the name suggests, it shows things that are interesting to us. But, no posts here. It only shows us topics in which we might or are interested. You can follow these topics or choose not to. One just has to click on any of these topics to see relevant posts. These topics range from food to place to expressions, to put it straight anything. Luckily they have provided a search option. The only thing lacking is the ability to create a new category.
As the name again suggests, it shows a list of people. Lots of people! Okay, you can filter them i.e. all, following or followers. It is basically a way of finding people you know or people you would like to follow or basically communicate with. Like on the Interest page, you can see relevant post from a particular user by just clicking on their profile pic.
Shows your profile. It also shows your post history, your interests, your conversations, parties and the people you are following.
Yes, parties. But not real parties. It is more like a hangout area. And you can do only one thing, watch videos. Each “party” is like a room where people can watch videos which play in real time. That is, if you join a party, you will be able to watch a video in sync with others in the same party. And one can also change the video, which sometimes might annoy others. Also you do get an option of adding videos. And luckily Microsoft has provided an option to start your own “party”. The only problem, if you like a video and started watching it from the middle, you will have to wait till it starts playing again or start it from the beginning and annoy others.
Well, Socl is a good effort from Microsoft to enter the social network scene. But we cannot deny that, there are some features that we have seen and used in other social networking sites. These features are similar to the once found on pinterest, google plus and twitter. These features were the selling points of these webpages and it feels good see that Microsoft is trying to combine these into a single package. But, Socl needs a lot of refining. Especially the lack of options to add original content to onto Socl and also some of the drawbacks of features like “parties”. These are areas where Microsoft can refine the webpage and make it better for users. If Microsoft can improve Socl a bit more, Socl can truly become a social network worth using.