Baking social in

Just before the end of 2010, I wrote a post that was published
on the Microsoft Corporate blog
that I thought would be useful to recap

The post talked about how “social” (either social computing or social
networking) has taken hold in Microsoft. Facebook and Twitter and the titans of
social of course and we work closely with both of them but sometimes I get the
sense that people think Microsoft doesn’t “get” social. I used to feel the same
way and ask “when are we going to do a Twitter or where is our Facebook
competitor?”. The reality is we’re taking a different approach for the most
part – Dharmesh Mehta wrote a great
back in September about Windows Live and our approach to social that
covered both the social software we build ourselves with Hotmail, Messenger etc.
as well as the approach we take to partnerships with companies like Facebook,
Twitter, LinkedIn, Bebo and many others.

Across other products, we take more of an ingredient approach – making social
part of the product rather than a standalone feature. In Xbox you can connect to
Twitter and Facebook (though I’m keen to see deeper integration), in Outlook you
can install the Outlook Social Connector to have Facebook or LinkedIn status
updates right inside of the email client in a thoughtful way. Bing has worked to
integrated twitter and Facebook results in to your searches – we’re moving
beyond 10 blue links or links that a computer thought were right for you to
links that your friends know are right for you. Tons more potential
there I think.

Windows Phone 7 is perhaps the best example of “baking social in” with deep
Facebook integration that makes it part of the entire experience rather than an
application you go in to and out of. Again, there is more room to improve here
(I’d love to see the same level of Twitter integration) but it’s a vastly
different way to experience social than on competing smartphones. Is it a better
way? I think so but it’s up to you to decide.

We also have a team dedicated to pushing the boundaries of social – they’re
called FUSE Labs (FUSE = Future Social
Experiences) and their work has already featured heavily here on Next. They’re
the people behind Project
, Montage and and they’re constantly exploring new
interfaces and ways to use social. Their work has contributed to Bing Social in particular. 

In writing this post I’ve ended up sort of paraphrasing the original post but
the essence of it is that social is embedded in many parts of Microsoft.
Sometimes you just don’t notice it when it’s part of the fabric.