Microsoft Details Plans for New Social Bookmarking Tool

Microsoft Corp. is delving into social bookmarking with the release in early September of the first version of a new bookmarking tool focused on its technical audience, the company said yesterday.

Microsoft, which released a preview version of its social bookmarking application in May, is adding new features to the first version, such as the ability to subscribe to bookmarking tags via RSS and to import bookmarks from other bookmarking sites like Delicious.

Microsoft is focusing its application on its sites that provide forums and support for developers and designers. Since releasing a preview version of the application for new MSDN, TechNet and Expression sites, thousands of users in IT have begun using the application to "save their Web favorites online, share them with others, see what other technical pros are favoriting and connecting with others," noted Microsoft's John Martin in a blog post. Martin is the lead evangelist for server and tools online at Microsoft.

In the early September release, Microsoft will add:

  • The ability to subscribe to tags or people: Users can follow a tag or a fellow bookmarker through an RSS feed subscription.

  • The ability to search for people by username and other criteria.

  • Import tools: The new application will provide a tool to allow users to import their favorite bookmarks from Microsoft Internet Explorer and Delicious.

  • A bookmarking widget: Users who have their own blog or Web site can post the bookmarking widget to make it easy for other users to bookmark the blog or personal Web site directly to their social bookmarks on MSDN, TechNet and Expression. Those who have posted the widget will then get traffic on their sites when a bookmarked page is published in the social feeds on Microsoft's global site, Martin said.

The first version of the application will be available in Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

With this first version, Microsoft has addressed some of the concerns noted this summer by users of the preview version in user forums. However, other issues raised with regard to the preview were not addressed in the update.

For example, a forum poster named "Gaja Kannan" noted about the preview version: "The only way the bookmarks here would be useful for me [would be] to consolidate the bookmarks in one place either all in Delicious or all in MSDN forums."

The September version will address Kannan's question, but not that of "Slash71" -- who noted in the forum that the social bookmarking application is a "great and long awaited functionality" from Microsoft.

"Now, the real question for anyone using SharePoint in their enterprise (which means ... a lot of people!) is: when can we have this functionality integrated to our SharePoint server?" Slash 71 noted. "Obviously, we couldn't care less about 'yet another Delicious' product unless it offers something we can use in the enterprise. Any idea?"

Adam Ostrow, a blogger at Mashable, said that while none of the features added to the preview version will make Microsoft's product stand out from the competition, it could potentially have appeal to Digg, Delicious and Reddit users who miss the days when those sites featured technology news almost exclusively.

"And by rolling it out to users of Microsoft's popular tech sites first, they are likely to be able to seed the site with the type of content that developers crave," Ostrow added.

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