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Today's Tech: Microsoft unleashes new social network, Google's Schmidt linked with US government role, Nokia Lumia 620 unveiled

Microsoft has opened up its social networking site, Socl, to the wider public. Up until now, the site, which launched discreetly more than a year ago, has been limited to a small set of users and has faced nearly a year of private beta testing. Socl, pronounced 'social', allows users to share content in an online gallery similar to Pinterest and is powered by Microsoft search engine Bing. Anyone with a Facebook or Microsoft account can now sign up and early indications show that it is most popular in India. In an industry already saturated, it will be interesting to see where exactly this latest social media venture will fit in.

Rumours circulating in Washington caught our eyes this morning, with the US press reporting that Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt may be in line for a role within Barack Obama’s government. Obama is preparing a cabinet shakeup as he enters his second term in the White House, and sources claim that Schmidt’s relationship with Obama, which pre-dates the President’s arrival at the Oval Office, may now be close enough to win the Google chief a job as secretary of Commerce or the Treasury – or even a new role as ‘secretary of business’. Watch this space…

Also today, Finnish phone manufacturer Nokia has unveiled a new addition to its Lumia line. The Lumia 620 is a price-friendly addition to the range of Windows Phone 8 enabled handsets. It also sports a novel customisation feature that allows users to mix and match various covers to produce new colour blends and hues. The new smartphone has been set an early 2013 release and promises a price tag comparable to that of the LG Nexus 4. For more on the story, follow the link.

In today's Autumn Statement meanwhile, George Osborne revealed that the government will put £50 million towards the installation of super-fast broadband services in 12 more UK cities, subject to approval from the European Commission. The cities are Aberdeen, Brighton and Hove, Cambridge, Coventry, Derby, Londonderry, Newport, Oxford, Perth, Portsmouth, Salford and York. If all goes to plan, the infrastructure should be up and running by 2015, delivering speeds of up to 100Mbps. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is encouraging public services to make the shift to the online world which, he predicts, could save the country £1 billion.