November 16, 2011 by openbytes
As if there is not enough evidence of Microsoft playing catch-up, there is now a “sneak” preview of Microsoft’s social networking service making the rounds in tech news.
For many this news isn’t new since there have been rumours and “leaks” for quite some time which to be fair, haven’t exactly been met with any sort of excitement or anticipation. Whilst this is one of Microsoft’s “research” projects there seems quite a few suggestions that they will actually try to run with this latest “scheme”.
Entitled “Socl” it is being reported that Microsoft is hoping to compete with Google and Facebook – which in itself poses a couple of questions which I will consider later in the article.
From the Inquirer:
From the initial screenshots it seems that Socl is almost a ripoff of Google+, particularly in terms of its interface style and layout. While obviously it will share a lot in common with Google+ and Facebook, it leans far more towards the former than the latter, suggesting that Microsoft believes that Google will be the long-term winner in the battle between those two giants.
Which would make sense since Google has proved to be a rather difficult competitor for Microsoft with the “mighty” Microsoft’s Bing playing second fiddle to the more successful Google (and thats not even mentioning a comparison between the popular Android and the struggling WP7). Whats ironic in the statement from the Inquirer is that previously Microsoft was alleged to have been copying Google in its search results and now we see an independent source stating that their “new” service seems to more than slightly resemble Google+. I suppose imitation is the best form of flattery.
I think the first question would be, if Socl is indeed Microsoft’s attempt to challenge Google+ or Facebook and be successful at something online, where does that leave Microsoft’s investment in Facebook? Unless I am wrong, Microsoft is an investor in the longer serving social network. How will this be affected?
Secondly one can be forgiven for being slightly dubious of any claims Microsoft makes of its social network service, we only have to cast our minds back a short while to remember Microsoft getting rid of its blogging service and making refugees out of its bloggers. It was only lucky for Microsoft that WordPress was charitable enough to offer a simple migration for Microsoft refugees and allow then to continue online. If Microsoft can’t make a blogging service work, how will it make a Social Network successful? and that’s in the face of the established Facebook and the growing Google+ (and of course it seems mainstream media forgets about Diaspora which in my view is the superior service/tech anyway)
It is little wonder why there is a hint of deja-vu here with the confirmation of “Socl”. Bing is trying to catchup to Google, WP7 is trying to catch up to Android and Apple phones, the apparent tablet suitable Windows 8 is not even available on the tablet form factor for purchase, all the while Android and Apple are again capturing the hearts and minds of the consumer and it’s hardly insightful to note that when it is released it will probably find itself in the same position as WP7 is now.
Little wonder then that there were a few concerns raised recently at Microsoft’s annual shareholders meeting.
Microsoft is in my view, merely flinging mud at the wall in the hope something will stick, the only place where “success” seems to come easily is with their patent aggression (which now may be set to change after we finally get an idea of Microsoft claims). Apple has a logo “Theres an app for that”, maybe the only logo Microsoft will have in the future will be “Theres a patent for that” as it moves further away from trying to compete with its own products and merely uses its patent portfolio to make a buck.
With Microsoft trying to catchup in so many areas, one has to wonder how far the rot has set in and when the once “mighty” Microsoft will roll over and admit defeat – I expect not in the near future, its got a war-chest of cash to try to make things work and on its journey out of tech relevance will be rather unpleasant for everyone.
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