John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Microsoft Vine: The Zune of Social Networks

vinebigThink of it as Facebook for the people you actually know and like, those whose health and safety you’d worry about in a natural disaster. It’s called Microsoft Vine and it’s not so much a social network as it is a “societal” one–or at least, Redmond likes to bill it as such.

Announced today and scheduled for beta in May, Vine is a hyperlocal messaging and alert system intended to be used to share information during a crisis. Properly configured, it will gather local news and public safety announcements along with location information, reports and messages from friends–eventually even those posted to other services, like Facebook and Twitter–into a handy little dashboard. This being Microsoft (MSFT), that dashboard will be proprietary and require PCs running XP SP2 or Vista and 600 MB of hard disk space.

So really, Vine is not so much a societal network for people you care about, but for the PC users you care about. A proprietary disaster messaging system… sigh, only from Microsoft.

Anyway…. It’s an interesting idea–not so much as the “societal network” Microsoft touts it as but as a cunning end run around established services. Twitter and Facebook are fun, recreational, but Vine has gravitas. It’s the network you turn to when things fall apart–assuming you meet the proper system requirements–because it consolidates the Tweets and status updates you actually want to read with need-to-know public safety announcements. Of course, Microsoft won’t admit that. “We intend this to be a service of services–to not replace social networking tools that exist today, but embrace them,” Tammy Savage, Microsoft Vine general manager, told TechFlash.

Yeah, embrace and extend and… well, we all know what comes next.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus