Microsoft Launches Social Aggregation Site

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Microsoft revealed a technical preview of Spindex, a new Web service designed to aggregate users’ social-networking feeds

Microsoft revealed Spindex, a Web service designed to aggregate its users’ various social-networking feeds onto a single screen, on 4 May.

The application is a product of Microsoft’s FUSE Labs, a Microsoft division devoted to building software with a social connectivity focus.

“As you increasingly tweet, post to Facebook, and capture ideas with tools like Evernote, we want to help you get the most out of your social activity by exposing the right information, at the right time, in a way that’s meaningful,” Lili Cheng, general manager of FUSE Labs, wrote in a 4 May posting on The Official Microsoft Blog. “Spindex, which we’re making available in early technical preview form, aggregates your social streams (Facebook, Twitter, Bing, etc.), making it simple for you to find what’s new, see personalised trending topics, and generally make the most of the time you spend being social on the Web.”

Spindex will try to ensure that those social-networking streams operate in something like symphony; for example, it will suggest content from Bing related to your friends’ latest updates.

A full breakdown of the service can be found on Microsoft’s FUSE Website. In keeping with the application’s social-media focus, a dedicated Twitter channel will reveal when Spindex becomes more broadly available.

Windows Live Messenger

Aggregation seems the name of the game for Microsoft lately; on 29 April, the company unveiled an upcoming version of Windows Live Messenger that bundles everything from video chat to Bing search results into the user’s message stream; in addition, videos and photos from SkyDrive, Facebook and related sites can be filtered through the interface.

“You can have a high-definition video chat with your friend while clicking through a set of photos, letting you see and hear each other’s reactions while you share. We’ve also made it easier to manage multiple simultaneous conversations by putting each one in its own tab,” Piero Sierra, a spokesperson for Microsoft, detailed in a 28 April posting on The Windows Blog. “And, of course, as part of our deeper integration with Facebook, later this year Messenger will support Facebook Chat, so you’ll be able to IM all your Facebook friends from within Messenger.”

No firm date has been given for Messenger’s wider release, although a “limited number” of individuals will apparently have the chance to test out the service “in the very near future,” according to Sierra.

Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie

Much of Microsoft’s emphasis on social-networking applications can be traced back to October 2009, when Microsoft Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie announced the creation of FUSE Labs with its focus on “software and services that are centered on social connectivity, real-time experiences and rich media,” according to a Microsoft press release at the time.

Ozzie himself wrote, in an 8 Oct. memo, that FUSE Labs would “bring more coherence and capability to those advanced development projects where they’re already actively collaborating with product groups to help them succeed with ‘leapfrog’ efforts.” Initial plans for FUSE Labs involved about 80 employees from Microsoft Startup Labs, based in Massachusetts, along with the Creative Systems Group and Rich Media Labs.

Some of the division’s early projects have included work on the Outlook Social Connector, which is baked into the upcoming Office 2010, and Bing Twitter Maps, which coordinates Tweets with a map. FUSE Labs also built Docs for Facebook, an online applications platform that lets Facebook users create and share Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents.

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