Microsoft has been readying its own answer to Facebook and Google+ over the past months.
The software giant accidentally released an internal test version of its “Tulalip” social search service earlier this year. Details of the service were hosted at socl.com, owned and managed by Microsoft. The service included a teaser promising a new “social search” service by Microsoft. The service also appeared to allow Facebook and Twitter users to sign-in. “With Tulalip you can Find what you need and Share what you know easier than ever”, read a message on the home page.
Microsoft confirmed at the time that Socl.com was an “internal design project from one of Microsoft’s research teams which was mistakenly published to the web.” It appears that the project was more than just a design one however. The Verge got an exclusive hands on look at socl.com on Tuesday. The site is currently under private beta testing and is expected to go into a wider public test at some point in the future.
Socl.com offers a three column layout and similar layout to Facebook. Search functionality on the site is integrated with Microsoft’s Bing decision engine. The Verge reveals that Socl focuses heavily on the idea of tagging items or topics that a user is interested in. Socl users can simply tag a particular interest and have social updates based on that item. How this works in the real world remains to be seen. Another feature of Socl is the ability to video party, similar to Google’s hangouts feature. Video party is built mostly on HTML5 and includes the ability to chat and view YouTube clips together with friends.
Microsoft is building a large amount of “social search” into Socl. The result is the company hopes that friends will interact more with each other based on sharing search queries in a more social way. The idea could allow friends to assist with a particular search that Bing is unable to pinpoint accurately.
It’s not yet clear when Socl will be made available to the public but it’s unlikely to be a project that Microsoft is heavily investing time and money into. The software maker has a close relationship with Facebook and generally uses research projects as a way to test and incubate new ideas to be rolled into Bing.
Image Credits: The Verge