New York: Microsoft, which owns a small part of Facebook, dipped its own toe in the online social scene with a low-key unveiling of its So.cl (pronounced "social") service.
The site, which is for students to share interesting discoveries online, looks like a curious blend of Facebook and Google +.
Right now it`s restricted to certain universities, and is a blend of web browsing, search (Bing, of course) and networking - including what it calls "video party".
Developed by Microsoft`s FUSE Labs, it is "an experimental research project focused on exploring the possibilities of social search for the purpose of learning."
In effect, Microsoft is trying to build on the fact that many students are looking for the same sorts of things online, and it gives them a way to put together and share their findings with other members interested in the same academic area.
We`ll see if its young users stick to such a lofty goal.
Microsoft says it`s not meant to replace Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, or to replace search engines. Indeed, you must log on with your Facebook account.
So far, Microsoft is restricting So.cl to the University of Washington, Syracuse University, New York University and a few other schools. But it says that anyone who wants to get more involved in the project should email them on Socl@microsoft.com.
Will So.cl be the first step of a greater social project under way at Microsoft? That`s something it is not willing to share.