Microsoft ‘Social Desktop’ weaves web connections around desktop files
Microsoft's prototype Social Desktop allows sharing of local files directly on the Web.
It will soon be easy to directly share desktop files on the Web. This is according to a proof-of-concept project that merges elements of Windows OS, Windows Azure cloud computing infrastructure, and social networking spearheaded by Microsoft Research.
The application instantly creates a dedicated web page for each file in the hard drive and allows file owners to provide previews of the files that they choose to share. Their networks can then add comments, tags, and links to related contents. In an interview with Techflash, Lili Cheng, who manages Microsoft Research’s Creative Systems Group, shared that the idea behind Social Desktop is “to integrate social-networking and online sharing more tightly into the PC experience.”
What makes this all possible is Microsoft’s cloud-computing infrastructure, Windows Azure, and Silverlight, the software giant’s cross-browser runtime and player for sharing multimedia files. While Social Desktop only runs with Windows 7, the next OS to be released by Microsoft in late 2009 or early 2010, a spokesperson for the company denies that the application will be included in the operating system, or that will it be released for public use anytime soon.
“The group is just trying to get a research prototype working internally right now,” he said via e-mail. “The Web site is just intended to paint the type of scenario they’re looking at.”
Microsoft has been on a race with leading internet companies, such as Google and Yahoo, in bringing the desktop experience to the Web. It is also actively pursuing cloud services by launching Azure in October last year. With the new desktop application, the tech company removes the need to upload, move, or copy files on the Web for viewing or sharing to peers; what it does instead is build social connections around local content. Its network-reliant Windows 7 is favoring Web versions of some desktop applications, such as those used in e-mailing or image-sharing.
With the possibilities of of giving third-parties an instant snap shot of personal files stored in personal computers, it is not surprising that individual or end-users are excited about another prospect of sharing content on the Web. However, the application is expected to inspire new networking barriers among businesses that plan to upgrade to the next Windows OS.