When Microsoft showed a prototype of software code-named "Wallop" at last month's Professional Developers Conference, attendees understood exactly what they were seeing. And the fact that Microsoft is sequestering Wallop behind a corporate firewall, allowing only a small number of researchers and their contacts to test the software, isn't helping to clarify matters. But Microsoft social computing group researcher Lili Cheng is starting to talk publicly in general terms, at least, about the company's foray into social-networking software. And Microsoft Research (MSR) is making screen shots available, showing Wallop and some of the other MSR social-computing technologies that are feeding into it.
We've been really interested in blogs, wikis, authoring and syndication around RSS, and social networking software in general," Cheng tells Microsoft Watch. "We were imagining how these things could combine. And Wallop is our first experiment in this space." The social computing group has been working on Wallop for about a year. And Microsoft sees its potential for both business and consumer customers, Cheng says. (As with all Microsoft Research projects, with Wallop, there is no definite if or when, regarding how it will show up as commercialized software.)
Wallop evolved primarily from a multi-user online community developed by Microsoft Research, called Hutch World. Named for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Hutch World was designed to connect virtually cancer patients and their caregivers. "We found people really wanted to talk with their own friends and families, more than with other cancer patients," Cheng says. "It made us go back to the individual".
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News source: Microsoft-Watch