updated 08:54 pm EST, Tue December 4, 2012
New product still in testing for foreseeable future, no announced plans
Microsoft's work-in-progress Socl has opened its doors to all. The nascent social network project was originally available to invited testers, and was primarily used amongst Microsoft employees along with students in a few select universities. Officials have described the new product as a combination of social networking and image search (a la Pinterest), to try to get groups "considering how to use collaboration technologies in new ways."
"The way people were using Socl was different than we designed it," said Lili Cheng, General Manager of FuSE (Future Social Experiences) Labs. "Our idea is to democratize design and make beautiful posts." Socl still has no private messaging system or groups, and a very simple image tagging system, so text-based image search is awkward.
Socl has borrowed ideas developed by FUSE labs into some other projects, like photo collage app Montage and game programming environment Kodu. Socl is still listed as a research project, with no public timetable for monetization. Microsoft claims that Socl is not intended as a replacement for Facebook or Google+.