Microsoft has just unveiled its brand new social network — for the second time.  That’s because previously the social network was only available to certain groups, such as college students and Microsoft employees.  But starting this week, Microsoft opened the doors of “Socl” to all takers.

The first thing you’ll notice about Socl is that it’s very similar to the interface of the Windows phone and the new Windows operating system.  Like Pinterest, Socl is focused on displaying visuals, but the visuals are set up on tiles. Microsoft is obviously aware of the trend driving internet users to more visual websites, but the overall feel of the social network is a bit lackluster.

Our take? There isn’t really anything ground-breaking about this new social network other than the layout.  Many people are already likening the feel of the site to Pinterest based on the minimal text and the fact that images and videos are posted in groups.  Some might find the “Parties” section interesting, but essentially it’s just a chat room where everyone is watching the same video.

All successful social networks have found a specific niche where they offer something new and innovative to users to keep them coming back.  Facebook took the best parts of early social networks and combined them into a great user experience.  Twitter had micro-blogging.  LinkedIn was professional.  Google+ brought hangouts to the table.  Pinterest had great visual pin boards.  Myspace became a place for music.

Microsoft’s Socl doesn’t seem to have its own unique niche yet, which isn’t to say it wont have one.  The parties feature has potential, but Socl as it is now seems to be just another Microsoft gimmick, like their “Scroogled” campaign or reinventing the Windows interface without a start menu.  If Microsoft is serious about making it in the social media world, they’ll need to find something with staying power that isn’t just hype.


UPDATE: It only took a few hours for Socl to be invaded by spam. Does this deter you from signing up? Let us know your thoughts over on Facebook.