Microsoft preps P2P app for "Net generation"

Microsoft's new Seattle-based NetGen division is about to release a beta of 3°, a new peer-to-peer social interaction tool geared towards 13-24 year olds that have grown up with Internet technology. What's 3°? C|Net has the scoop:
Core to threedegrees is the group instant messaging, for which there is no restriction on the number of groups. While each group is limited to 10 members, one person could participate in a dozen different groups or more, instant messaging or participating in activities in any or all of them.

Another feature, known as Winks, lets one user send animations to everyone in the group. "Winks is an activity where they can basically wink at someone across the room, but (you) do it virtually. Flirt with them," Savage said.

Group members also can share photos and, more importantly, listen to music available in a common play list. Savage sees this as one of threedegrees' most important features. "Music a lot of times is the background for the fun that you have."

I'm not sure that even members of the "Net generation" need another way to virtually flirt with each other, but 3° is an intriguing twist on the instant messaging paradigm, especially since it allows at least the limited sharing of music between group members.

As interesting as 3° sounds, and as tempted as I am to sign up to be notified when the beta is released, I have to wonder if we shouldn't be encouraging this "Net generation" to interact socially in the real world rather than online. Then again, I just barely qualify as a member of this "Net generation," so maybe I'm a square.

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