Microsoft has opened up to the wider public its version of a social network, which allows users to share content in an online gallery similar to Pinterest.

Socl - pronounced "social" - allows users to create visual posts. It is powered by Microsoft's search engine Bing.

It has been in private beta test mode for a year and in May was given a low-key launch, aimed mainly at students.

Now anyone with a Facebook or Microsoft account is able to sign up.

Socl was developed by Microsoft's Fuse Labs unit as a "research project... focused on the future of social experiences and learning".

On the website, Microsoft made it clear that it did not intend to go head to head with Facebook or other social networks.

"Socl is an experimental research project with a minimal set of features," it said.

BBC News