Microsoft’s social network project has been leaked to the web, with this being based around social searching.
During July, Microsoft Research let information filter out about www.socl.com and their Tulalip project. This is an experimental project which is between a social network and search service. Since this "leak", nothing else has been heard.
Rumours have now again picked up with information and screen captures published on The Verge. The Tulalip code name also appears to have been abandoned in favour of Socl. Microsoft is now testing Socl with a restricted user group.
Since this is an experimental project, there is no guarantee that this will even see the light of day. A Microsoft spokesman stated to Search Engine Land that Socl is one of the company’s projects currently being explored internally by their FUSE Labs team (Future Social Experiences Labs) about the future possibilities of social searching.
According to The Verge, Socl offers a relatively bare interface which has taken some inspiration from Facebook and Google+. Three distinct parts can be found with the navigation tools, a central information stream and other options to the right like inviting friends and a part that is reserved for video.
A function also appears to allow the watching of videos (YouTube for the moment) and chat. According to what The Verge has seen, Socl is primarily designed in HTML5 with no Flash or Silverlight plugin’s required.
At the top of the page, a search field is found, allowing you to "search and share with others". It would appear Bing is used for this. The aim is to prioritise social exchanges based around what users are looking for, more than their activity. It is also possible to see what your friends are looking for and share information, while also having access to experts and a tagging system for phrases.
During an annual meeting which took place yesterday with investors, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer highlighted numerous partnerships that have been signed, including with Facebook, to use the Bing search engine. This will assist Microsoft in growing their market share (especially in the USA with Bing Social). Microsoft hold a small amount number of Facebook shares, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Socl project grow, with greater integration with Facebook to be offered.