Thursday, April 03, 2008

Social Network Portability is coming, with a twist

Microsoft appears set on getting into the social space, whether by owning it or facilitating it. It's kind of like "let someone else build it and if they come we'll go get them and invite them over." Now it appears they are going for the Mall approach, rather than the franchise or leveraged buyout approach. Or at least, so it seems.

In a prior post, we noted Google's opening the cross-platform communications mode with OpenSocial, and the many developers working on an aggregator for users. Could this latest venture serve as an aggregator not just for individual profiles, but also one for groups? We are still looking for a mobile solution, too . . . waiting to be invited to participate in the mashup of Dashwire and ProfileLinker!

Microsoft is working with Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Tagged and LinkedIn to create a safe, secure "two-way street" so we can move our profiles and relationships between social networking sites. It's a little late for that, isn't it? How 'bout something that will synchronize what we have, or maybe even a business and personal profile, with by-individual or by-group access? We've already copy-pasted our "About Me" and a variety of likes and quotes and . . . What happened to the Open Social adventure that Facebook was avoiding making a commitment to?

Microsoft has been using SharePoint, with support for wikis, blogs and RSS feeds, with privacy and security so everyone can feel secure, for enterprise social networking, but now they are going after those who aren't connected by their internal company relationships. And they are proposing that we help them by using Windows Live Messenger to connect with Facebook (available now), Bebo, LinkedIn, Hi5 and Tagged (coming soon). The strategy starts with inviting your friends and connections to connect on Windows Live Messenger (not sounding a lot like portability here -- I am thinking "import from").

So I tried the only currently available option -- Facebook. A login to Facebook screen (with Windows Live logo but a Facebook URL) popped up, and the first try on login failed (hmmm, a phishing site?). But the next screen had the Facebook logo, and it logged me in just fine. I didn't however, see where I could add anyone to an invite list, so . . . I gave up and started blogging.

I was using MS Internet Explorer on XP on a Dell, so maybe that's what the problem was. Next time I find myself with nothing to do but beta-test for Microsoft, perhaps I will try Firefox on Leopard on a Mac.

I'm not sure that this will be a profitable venture for Microsoft, but it's worth a try. We know that owning a centrally located piece of real estate and inviting big names to stake their claim there has worked in the real world in the past. Microsoft has shown their ability in Web 1.0 to make money, and it's apparent that no one in social networking has figured out how to do that yet . . .

So we'll just keep beta testing while Microsoft keeps building . . .

Note that when I recently installed FriendFeed and Twitter on Facebook, it went off without a hitch. They obviously aren't related to Microsoft.

What do you think?

No comments: