Microsoft Research Reveals “Social Desktop” Prototype

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[Stay tuned, Laura Foy is meeting with these folks and will have a video soon.] Microsoft Research will be debuting a prototype called Social Desktop at the annual TechFest event being held next week. This software offers a new take on cloud computing, blending the PC and the web in a completely new way. It does this by giving every document living on your computer a URL that points to its location on the web – and without having to copy, move, or upload the file in any way.

In addition, the URL provides a way to build in social experiences around the file by enabling comments, tags, and related items to appear on the file’s “homepage.” As friends comment on the file in their web browser, the conversation becomes available in Windows, too. The file links that you want to share can also be distributed via Digg, Twitter, and Windows Live Messenger.

How it Works

Social Desktop runs as a local service that maps the user’s local data into a .NET service bus service, enabling local data to be accessible through firewalls. It also provides a web service view with built-in RSS event streams for any container. New data sources can be mapped into the URL hierarchy, enabling a distributed view to be built.

The preview of this application uses Silverlight web pages while the backend previews and files are stored on the web using Windows Azure. The software application runs on Windows 7 Beta where it takes advantage of the new OS’s file-preview functions.

Do You Want This? I Do!

The benefits to a system like this would be universal access as URLs can work on any device anywhere in the world. It also could radically simplify want still remains a difficulty even today – file sharing. But the social element is what’s most unique about the software. We already know that files can be socialized – we’ve seen this taking place today on sites like Slideshare (social slideshows) and video sharing sites, too. But imagine a platform where any file on your computer could become a social experience with little effort on your part (except, I hope, to mark some as private!).

Social Desktop goes far beyond any of today’s sync/file-sharing platforms that I’ve ever heard of as it truly meshes the machine to the web in a way that’s never been done before.

Unfortunately, the project is still in very early stages and is more of a “proof of concept.” That means it may or may not ever be released publically. Nooooo! Seriously? The web in your desktop?  I want this now!

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