Microsoft just unveiled So.cl (pronounced “social”), which is described a site “designed to give students the ability to network with peers, share useful information quickly, and build their own pages that collect information from both inside and outside the classroom–in a sense, transforming the web and social networks into the new classroom.”
Microsoft Research says that So.cl is still an experimental research project, available currently to students in information and design schools at the University of Washington, Syracuse University, and New York University. More schools will be added over time. This is also the way Facebook started via Universities and later spread to the public. Ironically The signup process is done via Facebook Connect.
Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet, says so far So.cl is by invitation only but that “those already in the preview will be allowed to invite new members.”
According to Microsoft, it’s not meant to be a Facebook clone/killer. It’s not a Twitter rip-off. It’s not a Tumblr or Google+ or Google Currents clone/competitor. It’s not a new search engine. It’s not something that Microsoft expects to roll into/integrate with SharePoint, OneNote or Exchange/Outlook.