Microsoft has started up its So.cl social networking service to the general public, which lets users share, discuss and comment on interesting search results and connect with “like-minded” people.

It is targeted at students and had earlier been restricted to visitors at universities, college and schools in the US.

The assistance combines with Facebook or myspace and is being delivered as an “experiment” rather than a competing to other systems.

Microsoft unveiled that the product was developed by its Blend Laboratories unit as a “research venture targeted on the future of community encounters and learning.”

Members are welcomed to create “collages of content” using the company’s Bing search technology and external hyperlinks, which they can, then discuss, share with others.

Users can then recognize individuals who are interested in the same subjects, observe their associates’ for and take part in “video parties” during which affiliates watch video clips together, leaving comments on them via chat function.

Members can sign in using their Facebook or myspace sign in details, however, their So.cl actions do not show up on Facebook’s pages unless the option is triggered.

so.cl site

The move to open up the assistance to the community was taken over the few days with little excitement, forcing some experts to take a position that Ms only had restricted dreams for the venture.

“The fact that So.cl is targeted at students echoes Facebook’s beginnings and has made many assume it is a Facebook clone,” the BBC quoted Eden Zoller, principal analyst at technology consultants Ovum, as saying.

“But So.cl is, as Microsoft stresses, an experiment designed to be a layer on existing social networks.

“Microsoft is being sensible in positioning So.cl in this way – the opposite approach of Google, which entered social networking all guns blazing with a full on service, and is having modest success,” Zoller said.

Zoller added that the project could also help Microsoft further improve Bing’s search capabilities.

A study by Comscore suggested that Microsoft had a 15.4 percent share of the US search market in April compared with Google’s 66.5 percent lead.

Earlier surveys have suggested that the gap is even wider in the UK and parts of Europe.