Microsoft has failed at social media so far, but its latest attempt has some potential. Instead of creating its own platform, Microsoft will use existing services like Skype as social mechanisms.
Microsoft said Wednesday that it's adding a sharing button to Skype, as a way to pass along interesting content and begin a conversation about them. Separately, Microsoft also launched Journal, a blogging platform that uses Microsoft’s Sway tool to host content on the nearly forgotten Docs.com.
The Skype integration is simple: Click the Skype icon, select from a list of friends, and Skype will share the content via a Skype message. Microsoft will put the sharing buttons alongside its own MSN content on sify.com (a site in India) and encourage third parties to add their own Skype buttons.
Why this matters: This is a cheeky bit of chutzpah: By placing the Skype sharing button alongside Facebook and Twitter icons on MSN and MSN-powered content, Microsoft is implying that Skype is a social network with millions of users, just like Facebook and Twitter. Which it is—except, well, it really isn’t. Except it is. Skype is a social network the way the telephone is a social network—a means of connecting friends and family that has evolved into more of a utility. Microsoft is suggesting it’s time to rethink those assumptions.
From so.cl to Sway
Microsoft has always been on the same plane as, say, an AOL or Yahoo, aggregating content from partners like the Associated Press and publishing it to various pages like MSN Money or MSN Sports. But it has always aspired to something more, launching So.cl in 2012 via Fuse Labs. Visually, it’s an odd hybrid of Pinterest or Instagram, where images are the topic of conversation, and hardcore geekiness: Users can actually write their own “kodu” games, for example, as well as post pictures or “picotales.”
Today, so.cl is almost a private network. The front page, which should be a cascading waterfall of images, hosts just a few users who greet each other like old friends.
Perhaps because of so.cl’s failure, Microsoft also has quietly launched Journal, a collaboration with Microsoft’s light content-creation tool, Sway, and Docs.com. Sway is one of the new tools found within Office 2016. The app creates content that combines texts, photos, and embedded documents, typically hosting them in the Microsoft cloud. Now, Microsoft is repositioning Sway as a blogging tool, complete with stats and analytics, on Docs.com.
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