Microsoft blog service targets tech-savvy youth

Microsoft has launched TheSpoke, a web logging service aimed at people in their teens and 20s.

Microsoft has launched TheSpoke, a web logging service aimed at tech-savvy people in their teens and 20s.

The service is part of Microsoft's Academic Developer initiative. The site was created by Singapore-based marketing services company Earth9 and went live last week, said a spokesman for Smooth Fusion, company that hosts TheSpoke.net for Microsoft.

Microsoft's academic developer initiative is focused on building a community of students interested in software development. TheSpoke is in a test phase and more features will be added, although the site is not intended to compete with other blogging services such as Google's Blogger.

Microsoft has set up specific web log communities, mostly for people with more than an average interest in Microsoft software, such as the GotDotNet blogs, but does not offer a mass-market blog service.

TheSpoke looks to be more of a mass-market effort. The first members for the site, known as Hubbers, were recruited with postings on websites for gamers. In one such recruitment posting, apparently from the team setting up TheSpoke, the call to join goes out to any "opinionated young person" wanting to blog about technology and gaming.

"TheSpoke is an online community for young leaders that are tech savvy and opinionated. TheSpoke provides tools to collaborate, discuss and debate the future of technology," said the recruitment posting, published Nov. 8 on an Xbox enthusiast Web site.

Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox did not see TheSpoke as a threat to other blog services, but rather as a tool for Microsoft to win support from young software developers who might otherwise choose to work on projects that compete with Microsoft.

"While there is a blogging component, TheSpoke is not a blogging site. Creating this kind of community is a longstanding Microsoft approach, particularly when it comes to building relations with developers," he said.

"Considering that academia is fertile ground for Mac and other Unix and Linux development, Microsoft is wise to provide alternative resources like TheSpoke, where student developers can gather and build a community."

TheSpoke is at http://www.thespoke.net/

Joris Evers writes for IDG News Service

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