Microsoft's take on social networking.
Microsoft’s take on social networking.

JUNE 11, 2008 • Microsoft’s Office Labs division is testing an internal social network. Called TownSquare, the Facebook-like prototype has been used by 8,000 Microsoft employees thanks to word-of-mouth after only 100 staffers were informed of the social network.  Although TownSquare offers primarily enterprise options for project networking, the underlying technology might prove useful for consumer application.

Impact:  A strong consumer social network product may just be what Microsoft needs to boost its online fortunes. By running TownSquare as an enterprise prototype, the company avoids any harsh comparisons to consumer sites like FaceBook. But if TownSquare’s technology proves solid, unleashing a feature-proven consumer spin-off becomes much easier. In that eventuality, expect the obvious tie-ins with cross-platform Xbox Live connectivity.